Cricket Latches On To Clearwire's 4G LTE Rollout Plans

Cricket may not strike you as being a major wireless player, but they're actually bringing on their fair share of customers; mostly folks who are tired of playing the contract game. And with that, comes expectations. With the major carriers jumping hastily to LTE, Cricket has announced a new deal with Clearwire (a five-year agreement) that will make Cricket the econd operator to have signed on to leverage Clearwire's forthcoming LTE Advanced-ready network, which will provide capacity off-load services to supplement Cricket's own LTE network. Cricket currently plans to deploy LTE across approximately two-thirds of its current network footprint over the next two to three years and to cover up to approximately 25 million POPs with LTE network technology in 2012.

"The high-speed 4G LTE networks we are deploying will complement our robust 3G network and allow us to continue innovating value for our Cricket customers," said Doug Hutcheson, President and CEO of Leap Wireless International, Inc., Cricket's parent company. "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."

"This long-term partnership with Cricket is a key step forward in the development of Clearwire's wholesale LTE business model," said Erik Prusch, President and CEO of Clearwire. "Not all LTE networks are created equally. We have always believed that our unmatched spectrum portfolio offers a compelling resource that can and will enable wireless operators to thrive in the 4G marketplace of the future. We are very pleased to provide Cricket with additional mobile broadband resources to supplement their own LTE build and we plan to continue to actively seek new opportunities to serve the needs of other 4G providers."

There's no financial terms being disclosed, and it's unclear whether or not Cricket will tap into LTE before tapping into LTE-Advance, but one thing is for sure: Cricket's contract-free customers can look forward to more speed, and soon.