AT&T believes the acquisition of Leap Wireless and the Cricket brand will give it a shot in the arm in the pre-paid wireless arena.
At least, that's what AT&T Randall Stephenson believes. On a conference call with analysts on Tuesday, Stephenson teased big things on the no-contract front once AT&T completes its acquisition of Leap Wireless, which is expected later this quarter. Leap operates its prepaid business under the Cricket name.
"With the Cricket brand on top of AT&T, you can expect us to be disruptive in the no-contract space," Stephenson said.
Exactly how AT&T and Cricket will shake things up remains unclear, but Stephenson provided some hints.
He suggested that the Cricket line would be more aggressive on a pricing front, at least far more aggressive than AT&T. The Cricket brand allows AT&T to play around with the pricing and service offering without affecting the core brand.
"There's some flexibility to do some things that are different with a different brand," he said.
Another question is how this affects its existing prepaid businesses, including GoPhone and Aio Wireless, which launched just a few months ago.
AT&T, meanwhile, isn't the only carrier to get aggressive on prepaid. T-Mobile has its own MetroPCS prepaid arm, while Sprint has long pursued prepaid customers through Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile. Leap, meanwhile, was on a downward slide when AT&T scooped it up, so there will likely be a lot of work to turn that business around.
The company reported it lost 32,000 prepaid customers in the fourth quarter, but blamed it on a decline in tablet activity.