Cricket Takes a Flying Leap

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Leap Wireless (NYSE: LEAP  ) announced Wednesday that there is now a fourth mobile carrier in the U.S. offering 4G LTE service. Leap said that its company Cricket Wireless has begun its transition to LTE with its test deployment of the technology in Tucson, Arizona.

Cricket joins major carriers Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) and AT&T (NYSE: T  ) , and fellow second-tier carrier MetroPCS (NYSE: PCS  ) as providers of the latest mobile broadband technology. A statement released by Cricket claims that pre-launch testing has shown a marked improvement in speed, from five to ten times faster than its 3G network. This first LTE network covers 90 percent of Tucson and will expand next year into nearby Nogales. Leap said last month that it plans to cover two-thirds of its present network with LTE service within two or three years.

All aboard!
MetroPCS rolled out its LTE network in Las Vegas, Nevada in September of 2010, along with what it said was the world's first commercially available LTE handset, the Samsung Craft. Metro has since been working with phone vendors on bringing the cost of LTE handsets way down.

Another smaller carrier, U.S. Cellular (NYSE: USM  ) , has said it plans to launch its LTE network in early 2012. Even DISH Network has plans to get into the wireless carrier business, this scheme with a hybrid satellite/terrestrial LTE network.

But customers of Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) , the third largest U.S. carrier may have to wait until the second half of 2012 -- at least that's what Sprint CFO Joseph Euteneuer told the attendees at a UBS conference in New York City earlier this month. He said that before Sprint had worked out some of the financial kinks it had in its relationship with its current 4G WiMAX network provider Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR  ) .

You need a phone to make phone calls
One problem here for Cricket: The company is not yet offering an LTE handset for its network. The one LTE device it now has available is a modem, the Huawei Boltz. The company says it will offer LTE-compatible smartphones and tablets in the future.

Obviously, until actual LTE mobile phones are added to the LTE mobile network, Cricket's foray into 4G is not going to shake up the industry. For now, this rollout still has to be filed under "W," for wait-and-see.

Wireless carriers are constantly investing huge sums in the latest mobile technologies to keep their current customers and attract new ones. The innovative companies that produce the components for those products might not be obvious to investors, but they can offer lucrative investing opportunities. Learn about them by reading 3 Hidden Winners of the iPhone, iPad, and Android Revolution, a free special report from The Motley Fool's Stock Advisor team.

Fool contributor Dan Radovsky owns shares of AT&T. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (2)

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  • Report this Comment On December 23, 2011, at 12:21 PM, lgrunner34 wrote:

    Clearwire? Any advice, seems like a stock with many question marks but just as much upside also.

  • Report this Comment On December 23, 2011, at 2:42 PM, gjasick wrote:

    Clearwire stock is a good choice. Clearwire has lots of spectrum holdings and that in itself makes the stock a good buy under $2.00. AT&T had to fork over $4 Billion to exit the T-Mobile deal and part of that $4 Billion was spectrum they had to give up to T-Mobile. Prior to Deutsche Telekom trying to sell T-Mobile USA to AT&T there was talk that T-Mobile would reach a wholesale agreement with Clearwire to use their network. All of the telecomm carriers are in need of more spectrum which makes Clearwire either a potential take over target, or gives them many companies other than Sprint to be wholesale clients. In my opinion I think Google (which already owns a bit of Clearwire) should look at acquiring Clearwire since they already make the OS for many smart phones, and they recently bought Motorola Mobility so the acquisition of a deep spectrum network would nicely round out their venture into the cell phone / data market.

  • Report this Comment On December 23, 2011, at 6:55 PM, shahidykhan wrote:

    Cricket has one of the WORST Customer Service and very bad phone signal. Highly reommend to STAY AWAY FROM CRICKET phone. Not woth-it all-all. Rating out of 10 is 1.

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