Leap Reports $19.3 Million Loss, Rebrands As Cricket

By partnering with Sprint and adding 15 mobile devices, the prepaid wireless provider hopes to rebound quickly from a disastrous second quarter.
Seeking to rebound from a disastrous quarter, Leap Wireless International is changing its name, adding a slew of new prepaid phones, and signing a new roaming agreement with Sprint which will broaden its coverage area.

Leap, henceforth to be called Cricket Communications after its longtime phone brand, jolted its followers by announcing a net loss of 112,000 customers in its second quarter. Investors had been expecting a gain and sent Leap's stock down more than 10% in early trading Wednesday. For the second quarter, Leap reported a net loss of $19.3 million on revenue of $633.5 million. While the numbers were an improvement over the previous year's like quarter, analysts had been expecting better figures.

The company's longtime roaming deal with MetroPCS appears to be fading, too, as Leap said it has forged a wholesale agreement with Sprint, which will enable Cricket devices to be offered over Sprint's 3G network throughout the United States. Leap and MetroPCS have been talking merger for years and the deal with Sprint makes it more likely that Leap could end up in the arms of Sprint rather than MetroPCS.

"This agreement with Sprint creates a new hybrid wholesale and facilities-based model that is unique in the industry," said Doug Hutcheson, Leap's president and CEO, in a statement. "We believe that our ability to offer compelling 3G voice and data services in markets we do not currently serve will allow us to further establish a national brand and attract new customers for our exciting Cricket products including smartphones and other services."

Leap/Cricket, which had been hampered by a thin portfolio of mobile phones, unveiled a strong new lineup of 15 mobile phones and devices, ranging from the BlackBerry Curve 8530 and Samsung's Messenger Touch, to Android phones from Huawei and Kyocera, as well as a Wi-Fi hotspot device called the Cricket Crosswave.

The company also unveiled aggressively priced service plans for the new lineup of devices. The flagship service plan is a $35 offering that features unlimited national talk and texting. Other higher-priced service plans start at $45 and offer picture and video features as well as data service.

"Our $55 Android plan is approximately half the monthly cost charged by larger U.S. carriers while offering the same high-speed 3G access and great features," said Al Moschner, Cricket's chief operating officer. "Based on what we have seen in the market, customers have embraced all-inclusive pricing, and with our new plans they will know exactly what they're going to pay each month, with no additional fees, telecom taxes, or average charges apart from sales tax."