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Leap goes live in Vegas

With Metro’s launch there in March, the two all-you-can-eat operators are positioned to go head-to-head in the one of the country’s fastest growing markets

Leap Wireless officially launched its Cricket Communications service in Las Vegas today, pitting it against fellow new entrant and regional all-you-can-eat minute plan operator MetroPCS.

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After both operators indicated Las Vegas would be the first big expansion target for their new Advanced Wireless Service spectrum, Metro beat Leap to market, launching its AWS network in late March. Leap followed with its first AWS launch two weeks later, but chose Oklahoma City as its first market instead. Though Leap may be going live two months later, Leap spokesman Greg Lund said the extra time has allowed it to build a much more extensive footprint in Vegas and the surrounding region as well as develop much stronger distribution channels.

Lund said Leap has opened 8 retail locations in the Las Vegas area and has 100 additional authorized retailers. Leaps new AWS network itself covers 1500 square miles centered on Vegas proper, but additional roaming agreements with three strategic operator partners expand the PCS coverage area well beyond the Las Vegas area into northern Arizona and almost linking it with Leap’s PCS network in Reno, NV.

“We’re following the same regional cluster strategy we’ve followed in other areas,” Lund said. Though the markets are not necessarily contiguous, Leap groups Las Vegas, San Diego, Phoenix and Reno into a market cluster where it can market similar services and allow roaming throughout the region.

As for the competition with Metro, this won’t be the first time the two have pitted their flat-rate wireless plans against one another. Though the two aren’t in any of the same metro markets besides last Vegas, they do overlap in their coverage of certain markets in California, such as Modesto and Fresno. Lund said that Leap has faced flat-rate competition from other regional providers in its market before. Most recently, competition has been coming from the Tier I national providers, all of whom have begun offering some form of unlimited voice plan for around $100 a month, Lund said. That has given Leap a huge opportunity to contrast its own unlimited plans, which start at $40 a month—though without long distance or nationwide coverage--with those of the big operators.

“We started an ad campaign right around CTIA that calls attention to their plans,” Lund said. “The price differential is so significant at this point, it’s easy to contract them.”

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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