Leap Wireless just reported a wider-than-expected loss in the fourth quarter, but the company announced they will turn to smartphones to grow their subscribers and increase ARPU (average revenue per user). Among the new phones will be a BlackBerry device from Research In Motion as well as a smartphone running Google’s Android platform.
The telecommunications company offers wireless service through its subsidiary Cricket Wireless and just announced a joint venture with South Texas based Pocket Communications. Both carriers offer unlimited talk plans starting around $25 and have unlimited talk plus web starting at $40-45.
This is not the first time a regional carrier has offered Android phones (see Cellular South), but Leap would definitely be the largest. Leap currently offers service across parts of 34 states and has close to 5 million subscribers. They also recently purchased some AWS spectrum that gives them coverage of an estimated 110 million potential customers.
It will be interesting to see how the wireless industry shakes down in 2010. Rumors are flying like crazy about a potential merger between Leap and Metro PCS, their rival.
Metro PCS had a failed effort to acquire Leap in 2007 and they are gearing up for another try. There is also talk that T-Mobile USA Inc. could be looking to buy MetroPCS or Leap.
Regardless of who comes out on top, customers should have access to cheaper data plans for Android phones later this year. Some of these carriers might not have the fastest 3G networks, but a $40-45 unlimited everything plan is mighty tempting.