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Prepaid wireless operator Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) has finalized a deal to sell $120 million worth of spectrum to Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) across several markets in the country. The deal is part of a larger Verizon plan to purchase $3.6 billion in bandwidth from SpectrumCo, a joint venture between Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Bright House Networks, Cox Communications, and Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC). The plan had raised several competition and antitrust questions over the last few months, but received U.S. Federal Communications Commission approval earlier this month.
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The spectrum gains will allow Verizon to expand its 4G LTE and high-speed data networks, the carrier said.
Leap also plans to invest the cash it receives in building out its LTE infrastructure. As part of the deal, Leap, which operates under the brand name Cricket, will also acquire 12 MHz of spectrum in Chicago, which will supplement the 10 MHz it already owns and operates in the city. According to a statement from Leap chief executive Doug Hutcheson, the company expects to start offering the LTE service to more than 65 percent of its current footprint within three years.
Verizon also plans to sell a total of 700MHz worth of spectrum licenses, with more than 65 parties said to have already expressed an interest in the sale. The carrier sold parts of its spectrum holdings to T-Mobile earlier this year despite the latter’s objections to Verizon’s larger spectrum purchase plans.
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