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Leap Wireless To Refine National Retail Strategy

San Diego — No-contract carrier Leap Wireless plans to make changes to its base of national retailers to focus on retailers that themselves focus on wireless, Leap Wireless said in announcing its third-quarter financials.

The carrier, which sells under the Cricket brand, also said it expects to decrease the number of national retail doors to about 5,000 by early 2013. As of December 31, 2011, Cricket products and services were offered in about 11,500 national retail locations.

Early this year, Cricket returned to Target on a national basis, but the partnership later dissolved. The carriers’ national dealers include Best Buy, Dollar General and Walmart.

In other market comments, the company said the iPhone 5 is on allocation and that the “early results” of the RadioShack-branded prepaid service that it just began selling through RadioShack stores are “meeting expectations.”

 In announcing a year-to-date net loss of $113.5 million compared with a year-ago loss of $239 million, the carrier also said it will explore ways to more cost effectively expand 4G LTE service. “The company is exploring cost-effective ways to deliver LTE services to additional customers, which may include deploying facilities-based coverage and/or entering into possible partnerships or joint ventures with others,” Leap said in a statement.

The company plans to cover markets with a population of 21 million with LTE network technology in 2012.

For the quarter, the carrier also announced net subscriber losses of 269,000 and a nine-month loss of 300,194. The carrier cited multiple reasons for the net subscriber losses, including second-quarter quality issues on select entry-level smartphones and increased prices on entry-level smartphones.

In the third quarter, the company boasted operating income of $81.4 million vs. a year-ago $16.1 million loss, but the income reflects a net gain of $130 million as part of a spectrum swap with Verizon Wireless. Third-quarter net income was $26.9 million compared with a year-ago loss of $94.1 million.

 For the year to date, the net loss was $113.5 million, down from a year-ago net loss of $239 million.

 Revenues were up 1.4 percent in the quarter to $774 million and up 3.6 percent for the nine-month period to $2.3 billion.