US WiMAX-turned-Long Term Evolution (LTE) operator Clearwire has confirmed that Cricket Communications, the budget-priced cellular unit of San Diego-based Leap Wireless, has entered into a five-year wholesale agreement to leverage capacity on its forthcoming LTE network. Doug Hutcheson, president and CEO of Leap Wireless, commented: ‘We believe this 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’. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
The deal with Clearwire effectively replaces Leap’s March 2011 roaming deal with ill-fated open-access LTE provider LightSquared, which has seen its plans to cover 260 million people with its hybrid-LTE network by 2015 derailed by a succession of regulatory and financial problems related to its network interference with GPS navigation systems.
In December 2011 Leap Wireless launched inaugurated its LTE network in Tucson, Arizona, with further expansion planned for neighbouring cities in 2012.