AT&T buying Leap Wireless? It could happen.
The latest acquisition rumor comes courtesy of Reuters, which reported yesterday that AT&T and Leap have been in talks over the past few months regarding a potential deal.
Such a deal would give AT&T more spectrum -- an asset it has been actively looking for since its deal with T-Mobile collapsed, as well as a decent base of prepaid customers. The report comes just days after. The speculation frenzy underscores the acquisitive posture of most of the wireless carriers, which are looking to bulk up their various spectrum positions at a time when most are facing potential capacity constraints.
Leap and AT&T both declined to comment to CNET.
T-Mobile CEO Phliipp Humm declined to comment on its reported interest in MetroPCS during a conference call yesterday. MetroPCS declined to comment to CNET.
As with the potential T-Mobile-MetroPCS combination, there are complications with a AT&T-Leap deal. Leap uses a different technology, called CDMA, than AT&T, and is more compatible with networks run by Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, and MetroPCS.
It's unclear whether AT&T and Leap are still in talks, Reuters reported. But the talks were apparently serious enough that Leap hired bankers to advise it on a potential deal.
AT&T has said that it is. And Leap is considerably smaller than T-Mobile.
The report comes shortly after Leap, which runs the Cricket Wireless prepaid brand, reported disappointing first-quarter results -- typically a strong period for prepaid players. MetroPCS likewise posted disappointing results.
The smaller prepaid players, including Tracfone, are struggling because of the aggressive moves made by the larger national carriers. T-Mobile yesterdaythrough its Monthly 4G business, and Sprint's showed strength at both its Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile arms.
Updated as 12:24 p.m. PT: to include a response from Leap.