Cricket* Communications, a subsidiary of Leap Wireless International, Inc. [NASDAQ: LWIN], has signed a three-year supply agreement with Nortel Networks* [NYSE/TSE: NT], estimated to be worth up to US$350 million, for wireless network infrastructure equipment and services to support expansion of its innovative local wireless service. Nortel Networks is also providing financing to Cricket, subject to standard financing conditions.
Leap's service, called Cricket Comfortable Wireless*, allows customers to make and receive virtually unlimited calls in their local area for a flat monthly rate competitive with traditional telephone service. Already available and well received in Chattanooga and Nashville, Tenn., Leap plans to launch service in eight additional markets by the end of the year and a total of 35 by the end of 2001.
Leap plans to use cdmaOne* digital radio base stations and infrastructure equipment from Nortel Networks to provide service in markets throughout the northeastern United States. The agreement also includes evolution to third generation cdma2000* technology designed to significantly expand capacity and speed to support enhanced voice and data services.
"Leap strives to provide the highest quality wireless service possible to our Cricket customers, and our relationship with a leading wireless infrastructure provider like Nortel Networks facilitates our delivery on this promise," said Harvey P. White, Leap's chairman and chief executive officer. "Nortel Networks' impressive equipment and services will help support our efforts to make wireless services accessible to the mass consumer market."
"Nortel Networks has strong momentum in delivering end-to-end wireless technologies to carriers," said Gary Donahee, president, Service Provider Solutions, Nortel Networks. "Our leadership position in wireless technology will enable Leap to offer enhanced data services in addition to voice to its customers."
The first phase of cdma2000 technology - called 1XRTT - is designed to double voice capacity and support data transmission speeds up to 144 kilobits per second (kbps), or 10 times the speed commonly available today. cdma2000 is ultimately expected to offer speeds up to 384 kbps for mobile and two megabits per second for stationary applications.