The big news in the wireless business this week has been AT&T's upcoming purchase of Leap Wireless, which the FCC approved yesterday. The deal has been in the works since July of last year. That leaves AT&T in an interesting spot, since it now owns the CDMA-based Cricket Wireless, which directly competes with the budget-focused Aio sub-brand. Apparently AT&T prefers the more established brand, because the company said it will combine the assets of both under the "Cricket" name.
Fierce Wireless reported that AT&T announced plans to combine the brands as part of the FCC filing back in October.
After the transaction's close, AT&T intends to combine the nascent operations of Aio with Leap's existing operations under the Cricket brand name.
AT&T has been seeking a more effective low-cost arm for years, famously attempting to buy T-Mobile and being subsequently blocked by the Justice Department. The Aio brand was then targeted by a rejuvenated T-Mobile in a slightly ridiculous color-based trademark lawsuit, which the magenta-flavored carrier won. Aio has only been around since last May, going national in September.
Presumably AT&T intends to convert its current Aio stores into Cricket retail locations, though integrating Cricket's CDMA technology and product line with AT&T's GSM and LTE networks will probably take a few years. In the meantime you can still buy Aio and Cricket phones using their brick-and-mortar and online stores. AT&T's GoPhone prepaid phones are still kicking around, with a few budget-minded Android options, no less.
03/13/2014 - The New Cricket to Deliver No-Annual-Contract Wireless on Reliable Nationwide 4G LTE Network
Experience of Cricket and Innovation of Aio Wireless provide a Winning Combination for Customers
Alpharetta, Ga., March 13, 2014 - There's a revolution coming in the no-contract wireless space and the new Cricket is leading the charge. The new Cricket Wireless, emerging today from AT&T's (NYSE:T) acquisition of Leap Wireless International, which had operated Cricket, creates a powerful force that gives customers what they have been asking for. The new Cricket will change the way people think about no-annual-contract wireless by delivering what matters most: a reliable, nationwide 4G LTE network; simple plans at affordable prices; fresh and engaging retail stores in their neighborhoods; and a range of cool devices.
"Today is more than a milestone in the industry, it's a signal to consumers to get ready for a smart wireless service option without an annual contract," said Jennifer Van Buskirk, president of the new Cricket. "We're fired up to help people across the country take advantage of our fast nationwide 4G LTE network, affordable pricing plans and cool devices everyone will love. This is the power of the new Cricket."
In the coming weeks, Cricket will be combined with AT&T's existing operations to create the new Cricket, with a national presence featuring thousands of stores in states across the country. The new Cricket is taking the very best from each brand and focusing on providing customers with simple, affordable no-annual-contract wireless that's easy every step of the way.
Existing Cricket Customers
There is nothing current Cricket customers need to do to right now. They can continue to use their phone, current phone number and rate plan to stay connected with family and friends. Once the integration of the two brands is complete, Cricket customers may visit a new Cricket store at their convenience to purchase a device and service plan that will give them access to a reliable, nationwide 4G LTE network so they can experience great coverage from coast-to-coast, with no roaming charges. Everything the new Cricket is doing is focused on making it easy for customers to take advantage of all that the new brand will offer.
Aio Wireless Customers
Existing Aio Wireless customers will continue to enjoy simple pricing plans and the phones they have without changing anything. The only change they will see is the name change to the new Cricket brand.
"Whether you're an existing Cricket or Aio Wireless customer or haven't discovered us yet, we can't wait for you to experience everything the new Cricket will offer," added Van Buskirk. "Get ready. It's going to be easy to see that the new Cricket is the smart choice for wireless service without an annual contract."
For the latest information about the merger, visit: http://merger-info.aiowireless.com
About the new Cricket Wireless
The new Cricket Wireless was created for customers who want a simple, smart and affordable choice for wireless service, without an annual contract. In addition to always focusing on the customer, the power of the new Cricket is access to a fast, reliable, nationwide 4G LTE network, easy and affordable plans that provide unlimited service and include all taxes and fees, and a great selection of devices customers love. To learn more about the new Cricket or find a store near you, visit http://merger-info.aiowireless.com The new Cricket is a subsidiary of AT&T Inc.