AT&T is looking buy Leap Wireless in a move to grow its own cell service network even more and add new radio frequencies to its own spectrum lineup. The deal will add 5 million new customers to AT&T's user base, and also gives AT&T Leap's 700 MHz radio spectrum.
AT&T ready to buy Cricket owner Leap in $1.2 billion deal
Mergers seem to be the name of the game for U.S. cell service providers. AT&T even went so far as to try to buy T-Mobile, although that deal fell apart in late 2011 due to government resistance led in part by rival carrier Sprint.
AT&T won't likely see as much resistance this time around since it isn't going after the fourth largest carrier in the country. That said, the idea that Cricket -- the brand Leap operates under for its cell service business -- will become part of AT&T may not sit well with competitors and consumers hoping for more options when shopping for new cell phones.
The news on AT&T's plans to buy Leap follows the completion of Japan's SoftBank buying more than 70 percent of Sprint in a $21.6 billion deal. That deal wrapped up last week, giving Sprint some $5 billion to increase its LTE coverage areas around the U.S. Sprint also completed its acquisition of Clearwire at the same time. T-Mobile also recently bought MetroPCS.
The big four carriers seems to have their sights set on smaller cell service providers, so watch for even more mergers over the next year.