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Cricket Turns To Clearwire For 4G LTE Expansion

3/14/2012 11:42:15 AM Eastern

San Diego -
Prepaid carrier Cricket shifted gears and plans to wholesale 4G LTE service
from Clearwire to supplement its own planned LTE network.

One year ago,
Leap announced an LTE roaming agreement with LightSquared to expand LTE service
into areas outside of the markets in which it planned to build its own LTE
network. Since then, however, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has
delayed
LightSquared's build-out plans, and many analysts see
LightSquared's plans as all but dead, citing vocal concerns by the GPS industry
about interference with GPS equipment.

Cricket's
five-year wholesale agreement with Clearwire "provides us with an attractive
option to supplement our own LTE build-out strategy and gives us the
flexibility to access additional 4G capacity where needed as data-centric
devices continue to become more popular," said Doug Hutcheson,
president/CEO of Cricket parent Leap Wireless.

Cricket
currently plans to launch LTE in about two-thirds of its current network
footprint over the next two to three years, covering markets with a population
of about 25 million people in 2012. The company launched its first LTE market,
Tucson, Ariz., in December 2011.

Cricket operates
its own 3G CDMA 1x EV-DO Rev. A network in 66 markets in 35 states and has a wholesale
agreement with Sprint to offer service under the Cricket brand in all 50
states.

For its part,
Clearwire is transitioning to LTE Advanced from Mobile WiMAX for 4G service.
The carrier operates in about 75 markets with around 16,000 WiMax base stations
and expects to have 5,000 LTE sites on air by mid-2013 and up to 8,000 on air
"not long after that," a spokesman told TWICE. "Our target is the dense urban
and suburban areas with the highest demand for usage, but we've not yet
announced a city by city rollout list," he added.

Clearwire owns
more than 160MHz of spectrum in the 100 largest markets.

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