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Leap Wireless International 10-K 2010
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Table of Contents

 
 
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     
  (Mark One)    
þ
  ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
   
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2009
   
OR
o
  TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
    For the transition period from            to           .
 
Commission file number 0-29752
LEAP WIRELESS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
 
     
Delaware
  33-0811062
(State or Other Jurisdiction of Incorporation or Organization)   (I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
5887 Copley Drive, San Diego, CA
  92111
(Address of Principal Executive Offices)
  (Zip Code)
 
(858) 882-6000
 
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
 
     
Title of Each Class
  Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
Common Stock, $.0001 par value
  The NASDAQ Stock Market, LLC
 
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None.
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.  Yes þ     No o
 
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.  Yes o     No þ
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.  Yes þ     No o
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).  Yes o     No o
 
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  þ
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
 
Large accelerated filer þ                                                                           Accelerated filer o
Non-accelerated filer o (Do not check if a smaller reporting company) Smaller reporting company o
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).  Yes o     No þ
 
As of June 30, 2009, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s voting and nonvoting common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $2,016,011,086, based on the closing price of Leap common stock on the NASDAQ Global Select Market on June 30, 2009 of $32.93 per share.
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Section 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court.  Yes þ     No o
 
The number of shares of registrant’s common stock outstanding on February 19, 2010 was 77,500,550.
 
Documents incorporated by reference:  Portions of the definitive Proxy Statement relating to the 2010 Annual Meeting of Stockholders are incorporated by reference into Part III of this report.
 


 

 
 
             
        Page
 
      Business   1
      Risk Factors   21
      Unresolved Staff Comments   41
      Properties   41
      Legal Proceedings   42
      Submission of Matters to a Vote of Security Holders   45
 
PART II
      Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities   46
      Selected Financial Data   47
      Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations   49
      Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk   83
      Financial Statements and Supplementary Data   85
      Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure   191
      Controls and Procedures   191
      Controls and Procedures   192
      Other Information   192
 
PART III
      Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance   193
      Executive Compensation   193
      Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters   193
      Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence   194
      Principal Accounting Fees and Services   194
 
PART IV
      Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules   195
 EX-3.1
 EX-3.2
 EX-4.1
 EX-10.13.1
 EX-21
 EX-23
 EX-31.1
 EX-31.2
 EX-32


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As used in this report, unless the context suggests otherwise, the terms “we,” “our,” “ours,” and “us” refer to Leap Wireless International, Inc., or Leap, and its subsidiaries, including Cricket Communications, Inc., or Cricket. Leap, Cricket and their subsidiaries and consolidated joint ventures are sometimes collectively referred to herein as the “Company.” Unless otherwise specified, information relating to population and potential customers, or POPs, is based on 2009 population estimates provided by Claritas Inc.
 
 
Except for the historical information contained herein, this report contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements reflect management’s current forecast of certain aspects of our future. You can generally identify forward-looking statements by forward-looking words such as “believe,” “think,” “may,” “could,” “will,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “seek,” “plan,” “expect,” “should,” “would” and similar expressions in this report. Such statements are based on currently available operating, financial and competitive information and are subject to various risks, uncertainties and assumptions that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated in or implied by our forward-looking statements. Such risks, uncertainties and assumptions include, among other things:
 
  •  our ability to attract and retain customers in an extremely competitive marketplace;
 
  •  the duration and severity of the current economic downturn in the United States and changes in economic conditions, including interest rates, consumer credit conditions, consumer debt levels, consumer confidence, unemployment rates, energy costs and other macro-economic factors that could adversely affect demand for the services we provide;
 
  •  the impact of competitors’ initiatives;
 
  •  our ability to successfully implement product offerings and execute effectively on our other strategic activities;
 
  •  our ability to obtain roaming services from other carriers at cost-effective rates;
 
  •  our ability to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting;
 
  •  our ability to attract, motivate and retain an experienced workforce;
 
  •  our ability to comply with the covenants in any credit agreement, indenture or similar instrument governing any of our existing or future indebtedness;
 
  •  failure of our network or information technology systems to perform according to expectations and risks associated with the upgrade of certain of those systems, including our customer billing system; and
 
  •  other factors detailed in “Part I — Item 1A. Risk Factors” below.
 
All forward-looking statements in this report should be considered in the context of these risk factors. We undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. In light of these risks and uncertainties, the forward-looking events and circumstances discussed in this report may not occur and actual results could differ materially from those anticipated or implied in the forward-looking statements. Accordingly, users of this report are cautioned not to place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements.
 
Item 1.   Business
 
 
We are a wireless communications carrier that offers digital wireless services in the U.S. under the “Cricket®” brand. Our Cricket service offerings provide customers with unlimited wireless services for a flat rate without requiring a fixed-term contract or a credit check.


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Cricket service is offered by Cricket, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leap, and is also offered in Oregon by LCW Wireless Operations, LLC, or LCW Operations, and in the upper Midwest by Denali Spectrum Operations, LLC, or Denali Operations. Cricket owns an indirect 70.7% non-controlling interest in LCW Operations through a 70.7% non-controlling interest in LCW Wireless, LLC, or LCW Wireless, and owns an indirect non-controlling interest in Denali Operations through an 82.5% non-controlling interest in Denali Spectrum, LLC, or Denali. LCW Wireless and Denali are designated entities under Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, regulations. We consolidate our interests in LCW Wireless and Denali in accordance with the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s, or FASB’s, authoritative guidance for the consolidation of variable interest entities because these entities are variable interest entities and we will absorb a majority of their expected losses.
 
Leap was formed as a Delaware corporation in 1998. Leap’s shares began trading publicly in September 1998, and we launched our innovative Cricket service in March 1999. Leap conducts operations through its subsidiaries and has no independent operations or sources of income other than interest income and through dividends, if any, from its subsidiaries.
 
 
 
As of December 31, 2009, Cricket service was offered in 35 states and the District of Columbia and had approximately 5.0 million customers. As of December 31, 2009, we, LCW Wireless License, LLC, or LCW License (a wholly owned subsidiary of LCW Operations), and Denali Spectrum License Sub, LLC, or Denali License Sub (an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Denali) owned wireless licenses covering an aggregate of approximately 186.1 million POPs (adjusted to eliminate duplication from overlapping licenses). The combined network footprint in our operating markets covered approximately 94.2 million POPs as of December 31, 2009, which includes incremental POPs attributed to ongoing footprint expansion in existing markets. The licenses we and Denali own provide 20 MHz of coverage and the opportunity to offer enhanced data services in almost all markets in which we currently operate, assuming Denali License Sub were to make available to us certain of its spectrum.
 
Our Cricket service offerings are based on providing unlimited wireless services to customers, and the value of unlimited wireless services is the foundation of our business. Our primary Cricket service is Cricket Wireless, which offers customers unlimited wireless voice and data services for a flat monthly rate. Our most popular Cricket Wireless rate plans include unlimited local and U.S. long distance service from any Cricket service area and unlimited text messaging. In addition to our Cricket Wireless voice and data services, we offer Cricket Broadband, our unlimited mobile broadband service, which allows customers to access the internet through their computers for one low, flat rate with no long-term commitments or credit checks. We also offer Cricket PAYGotm, a pay-as-you-go unlimited prepaid wireless service designed for customers who prefer the flexibility and control offered by traditional prepaid services but who are seeking greater value for their dollar.
 
We have designed our Cricket services to appeal to customers who value unlimited wireless services with predictable billing and who use the majority of those wireless services from within Cricket service areas. Our customers tend to be younger, have lower incomes and include a greater percentage of ethnic minorities. Our internal customer surveys indicate that approximately 70% of our Cricket Wireless customers use our service as their sole phone service and a substantial percentage of our Cricket Wireless customers use our service as their primary phone service. For the year ended December 31, 2009, our customers used our Cricket Wireless service for an average of approximately 1,500 minutes per month, which was substantially above the U.S. wireless national carrier customer average.
 
The majority of wireless customers in the U.S. subscribe to post-pay services that may require credit approval and a contractual commitment from the subscriber for a period of at least one year and may include overage charges for call volumes in excess of a specified maximum. According to International Data Corporation, U.S. wireless penetration was approximately 90% at December 31, 2009. We believe that a large portion of the remaining growth potential in the U.S. wireless market consists of customers who are price-sensitive, who have lower credit scores or who prefer not to enter into fixed-term contracts, and believe our pay-in-advance and prepaid services appeal strongly to these customer segments. We believe that we are able to serve these customers and generate significant


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operating income before depreciation and amortization, or OIBDA, because of our high-quality network and low customer acquisition and operating costs.
 
We believe that our business is scalable because we offer an attractive value proposition to our customers while utilizing a cost structure that is significantly lower than most of our competitors. As a result, we have continued to pursue activities to expand our business. These expansion activities have included the broadening of our product portfolio, which has included the introduction of our Cricket Broadband and Cricket PAYGo products over the past few years. We have also enhanced our network coverage and capacity. In 2009, we and Denali Operations launched new markets in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Lake Charles covering approximately 24.2 million additional POPs. We have also continued to enhance our network coverage and capacity in many of our existing markets. Future business expansion activities could include the acquisition of additional spectrum through private transactions or FCC auctions, the build-out and launch of Cricket services in additional markets, entering into partnerships with others, the acquisition of other wireless communications companies or complementary businesses or the deployment of next-generation network technology over the longer term. We also expect to continue to look for opportunities to optimize the value of our spectrum portfolio. Because some of the licenses that we and Denali License Sub hold include large regional areas covering both rural and metropolitan communities, we and Denali may seek to partner with others, sell some of this spectrum or pursue alternative products or services to utilize or benefit from the spectrum not otherwise used for Cricket service. We intend to be disciplined as we pursue any expansion efforts and to remain focused on our position as a low-cost leader in wireless telecommunications.
 
 
  •  Target Growing Market Segments.  Our services are targeted primarily toward customers who value unlimited wireless services with predictable billing and who use the majority of those wireless services from within Cricket service areas. On average, our customers tend to be younger and have lower incomes than the customers of other wireless carriers. Moreover, our customer base also reflects a greater percentage of ethnic minorities than those of other carriers. We believe these market segments are among the fastest growing population segments in the U.S.
 
  •  Maintain Industry Leading Cost Structure.  Our networks and business model are designed to provide wireless services to our customers at a significantly lower cost than many of our competitors. We seek to maintain low customer acquisition costs through focused sales and marketing initiatives and cost-effective distribution strategies. As the number of customers using our wireless products and services increases, we expect that our fixed costs will continue to be spread over a larger customer base.
 
  •  Continue to Develop and Evolve Products and Services.  We continue to develop and evolve our product and service offerings to better meet the needs of our target customer segments. For example, during the last three years, we introduced our new Cricket Broadband and Cricket PAYGo services and added unlimited mobile web access to our product portfolio. With the completion of our deployment of CDMA2000® 1xEV-DO, or EvDO, technology across all of our existing and new markets, we are able to offer an expanded array of services to our customers, including high-demand wireless data services such as mobile content and high quality music downloads. We believe these and other enhanced data offerings are attractive to many of our existing customers and enhance our appeal to new data-centric customers. We expect to continue to develop our voice and data product and service offerings in 2010 and beyond.
 
  •  Continue to Build Our Brand and Strengthen Our Distribution.  We are focused on building our brand awareness in our markets and improving the productivity of our distribution system. Since our target customer base is diversified geographically, ethnically and demographically, our marketing programs are decentralized to support local customization and better target our advertising expenses. We are continuing to redesign and re-merchandize our stores and we have introduced a new sales process aimed at improving our customers’ experience. Our premier dealer program features third party retail locations with the look and feel of company-owned stores, and we are continuing to enable our premier dealers and other indirect dealers to provide greater customer support services. In 2009, we began distributing Cricket Broadband and daily and monthly pay-as-you-go versions of our Cricket PAYGo product through national mass-market retailers.


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  In addition, we have increased our use of sales via the internet and telephone, which continue to deliver a growing number of new customers. We expect to continue our focus on enhancing the customer experience and improving customer satisfaction.
 
  •  Enhance Network Coverage, Capacity and Available Calling Area.  We continue to enhance our network coverage and capacity. As of December 31, 2009, the combined network footprint in our operating markets covered approximately 94.2 million POPs. In 2009, we and Denali Operations launched new markets in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Lake Charles covering approximately 24.2 million additional POPs. In addition, we have identified new markets covering approximately 16 million additional POPs that we could elect to build out and launch with Cricket service in the future using our wireless licenses, although we have not established a timeline for any such build-out or launch. We also continue to enhance our network coverage and capacity in many of our established markets by deploying additional cell sites, thereby allowing us to offer our customers a larger, higher-quality local calling area. In addition, we have established strategic roaming partnerships with several wireless carriers to provide our customers with unlimited usage in areas stretching from New York to California and from Wisconsin to Texas. Most significantly, through expanded roaming relationships that we have recently entered into, effective March 2010 customers purchasing our Cricket Wireless and most Cricket PAYGo service plans will be able to access a nationwide, extended calling area covering 277 million covered POPs.
 
Cricket Business Operations
 
 
Cricket Wireless Service Plans.  Our Cricket Wireless service plans are designed to attract customers by offering simple, predictable and affordable wireless voice and data services that are a competitive alternative to traditional wireless and wireline services. We offer service on a flat-rate, unlimited usage basis, without requiring fixed-term contracts, early termination fees or credit checks. Our service plans allow our customers to place unlimited calls within Cricket service areas and receive unlimited calls from anywhere in the world.
 
Our most popular Cricket Wireless rate plans include unlimited local and U.S. long distance service from any Cricket service area and unlimited text messaging. We also offer a flexible payment option, BridgePaytm, which gives our customers greater flexibility in the use and payment of our Cricket Wireless service and which we believe helps us to retain customers.
 
As a result of our deployment of EvDO technology across all of our existing and new markets, we offer an expanded array of services to our customers, including high-demand wireless data services such as mobile content and high quality music downloads. We believe these and other enhanced data offerings are attractive to many of our existing customers and enhance our appeal to new data-centric customers. We expect to continue to develop our product and service offerings in 2010 and beyond to better meet our customers’ needs.
 
Cricket Wireless Plan Upgrades.  We continue to evaluate new product and service offerings in order to enhance customer satisfaction and attract new customers. Examples of services that customers can add to their Cricket Wireless service plans include packages of international calling minutes to Canada and/or Mexico, and Cricket Flex Bucket service, which allows our customers to pre-purchase services (including additional directory assistance calls, domestic and international long distance, ring tones, premium short message service (SMS) and text messaging to wireless users) and applications (including customized ring tones, wallpapers, photos, greeting cards, games and news and entertainment message deliveries) on a prepaid basis.
 
Handsets.  Our handsets range from high-end to low-cost models and include models that provide mobile web browsers, picture-enabled caller ID, color screens, high-resolution cameras with digital zoom and flash, integrated FM radio and MP3 stereo, USB, infrared and Bluetooth connectivity, over 20MB of on-board memory, and other features to facilitate digital data transmission. Currently, all of the handsets that we offer use CDMA2000 1xRTT, or CDMA 1xRTT, or EvDO technology. In addition, we occasionally offer selective handset upgrade


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incentives for customers who meet certain criteria. In 2008, we introduced handsets compatible with Advanced Wireless Services, or AWS, spectrum and also introduced the first handset designed and manufactured specifically for us. We plan to further enhance our handset offerings in 2010, which we expect will include the introduction of smartphone devices.
 
We facilitate warranty exchanges between our customers and the handset manufacturers for handset issues that occur during the applicable warranty period, and we work with a third party who provides our customers with an extended handset warranty/insurance program. Customers have limited rights to return handsets and accessories based on the time elapsed since purchase and usage. Returns of handsets and accessories have historically been insignificant.
 
Cricket Broadband Service.  In 2007, we introduced Cricket Broadband, our unlimited mobile broadband service offering. Like our Cricket Wireless unlimited service plans, our unlimited mobile broadband service allows customers to access the internet through their computers for one low, flat rate with no long-term commitments or credit checks, and brings low-cost broadband data capability to the unlimited wireless segment. Our Cricket Broadband service is available to our customers in all of the markets in which we operate. In 2009, we began distributing Cricket Broadband through national mass-market retailers.
 
Cricket PAYGo Service.  In 2008, we introduced Cricket PAYGo, our unlimited prepaid wireless service. Cricket PAYGo is a pay-as-you-go unlimited prepaid wireless service designed for customers who prefer the flexibility and control offered by traditional pre-paid services but who are seeking greater value for their dollar. In 2009, we began distributing daily and monthly pay-as-you-go versions of our Cricket PAYGo product through national mass-market retailers.
 
 
Customer Care.  We outsource our call center operations to multiple call center vendors and strive to take advantage of these call centers to continuously improve the quality of our customer care and reduce the cost of providing care to our customers.
 
Billing and Support Systems.  We outsource our billing, provisioning, and payment systems to external vendors and also outsource bill presentment, distribution and fulfillment services. We are in the process of upgrading a number of our significant, internal business systems, including our customer billing system. In December 2008, we entered into a long-term, exclusive services agreement with Convergys Corporation, or Convergys, for the implementation and ongoing management of a new billing system. To help facilitate the transition of customer billing from our previous vendor, VeriSign, Inc., to Convergys, we acquired VeriSign’s billing system software and simultaneously entered into a transition services agreement to enable Convergys to provide us with billing services using the VeriSign software we acquired until the conversion to the new system is complete. In addition to the new customer billing system, we also intend to implement a new inventory management system and new point-of-sale system.
 
We currently expect to transition to these new systems, including our customer billing system, in 2010. We believe that these new systems will improve our customers’ experience, increase our efficiency and ability to provide products and services, support future scaling of our business and reduce our operating costs. There can be no assurances, however, that we will not experience difficulties, delays or interruptions while we implement and transition to these new systems.
 
 
Our sales and distribution strategy is designed to continue to increase our market penetration, while minimizing expenses associated with sales, distribution and marketing, by focusing on improving the sales process for customers and by offering easy-to-understand service plans and attractive handset pricing and promotions. We believe our sales costs are lower than traditional wireless providers in part because of this streamlined sales approach.
 
We sell our Cricket handsets and service through direct and indirect channels of distribution. Our direct channel is comprised of our own Cricket retail stores and kiosks. As of December 31, 2009, we, LCW Operations


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and Denali Operations had approximately 280 direct locations, which were responsible for approximately 23% of our gross customer additions in 2009. In addition, we have increased our use of sales via the internet and telephone, which continue to deliver a growing number of new customers. Some third party internet retailers also sell the Cricket service over the internet.
 
Our indirect channel consists of our authorized dealers and distributors, including premier dealers and local market authorized dealers. Premier dealers are independent dealers that sell Cricket products exclusively in stores that look and function similar to our company-owned stores, enhancing the in-store experience and the level of customer service for customers and expanding our brand presence within a market. Premier dealers tend to generate significantly more business than other indirect distributors. As of December 31, 2009, we, LCW Operations and Denali Operations had approximately 3,760 indirect dealer locations, of which approximately 1,740 were premier dealer locations.
 
We also conduct indirect distribution through national mass-market retailers. In 2009, we began distributing Cricket Broadband and daily and monthly pay-as-you-go versions of our Cricket PAYGo product through these retailers, and as of December 31, 2009, we, LCW Operations and Denali Operations offered these products and services in approximately 3,900 mass-market retailer locations. In addition, top-up cards for our Cricket Broadband and Cricket PAYGo services are available in convenience stores and other indirect outlets.
 
We strategically place our direct and indirect retail locations to enable us to focus on our target customer demographic and provide the most efficient market coverage while minimizing cost. As a result of our product design and cost efficient distribution system, we have been able to achieve a cost per gross customer addition, or CPGA, which measures the average cost of acquiring a new customer, that is significantly lower than most traditional wireless carriers.
 
We are focused on building and maintaining brand awareness in our markets and improving the productivity of our distribution system. We combine mass and local marketing strategies to build brand awareness of the Cricket service within the communities we serve. In order to reach our target segments, we advertise primarily on radio stations and, to a lesser extent, on television and in local publications. We also maintain the Cricket website (www.mycricket.com) for informational, e-commerce and customer service purposes. We are also continuing to redesign and re-merchandize our stores and have introduced a new sales process aimed at improving our customers’ experience. As a result of these marketing strategies and our unlimited calling value proposition, we believe our advertising expenditures are generally much lower than those of traditional wireless carriers.
 
 
We have deployed in each of our markets a high-quality CDMA 1xRTT and EvDO network that delivers high capacity and outstanding quality at a low cost that can be easily upgraded to support enhanced capacity. During 2007, we completed the upgrade to EvDO technology in all of our markets, providing us the technical ability to support next-generation high-speed data services. In addition, we are currently conducting technical trials of Long Term Evolution, or LTE, technology. We monitor network quality metrics, including dropped call rates and blocked call rates. We also engage an independent third party to test the network call quality offered by us and our competitors in the markets where we offer service. Our network has regularly been ranked by third party surveys commissioned by us as one of the top networks for voice services within the advertised coverage area in the markets Cricket serves.
 
Our service is based on providing customers with levels of usage equivalent to landline service at prices substantially lower than those offered by most of our wireless competitors for similar usage and at prices that are competitive with unlimited wireline plans. We believe our success depends on operating our CDMA 1xRTT and EvDO network to provide high quality, concentrated coverage and capacity rather than the broad, geographically dispersed coverage provided by traditional wireless carriers.
 
As of December 31, 2009, our wireless network consisted of approximately 9,000 cell sites (most of which are co-located on leased facilities), a Network Operations Center, or NOC, and 37 switches in 31 switching centers. A switching center serves several purposes, including routing calls, supervising call originations and terminations at cell sites, managing call handoffs and access to and from the public switched telephone network, or PSTN, and other value-added services. These locations also house platforms that enable services including text messaging, picture


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messaging, voice mail and data services. Our NOC provides dedicated, 24 hours per day monitoring capabilities every day of the year for all network nodes to ensure highly reliable service to our customers.
 
Our switches connect to the PSTN through fiber rings leased from third party providers which facilitate the first leg of origination and termination of traffic between our equipment and both local exchange and long distance carriers. We have negotiated interconnection agreements with relevant exchange carriers in each of our markets. We use third party providers for long distance services and for backhaul services carrying traffic to and from our cell sites and switching centers.
 
We generally build out our Cricket network in local population centers serving the areas where our customers live, work and play. During 2009, we continued to enhance our network coverage and capacity in many of our existing markets, allowing us to offer our customers a larger, higher-quality local calling area.
 
Some of the licenses we and Denali License Sub hold include large regional areas covering both rural and metropolitan communities. We believe that a significant portion of the POPs included within these licenses may not be well suited for Cricket service. Therefore, among other things, we and/or Denali may seek to partner with others, sell some of this spectrum or pursue alternative products or services to utilize or benefit from the spectrum not otherwise used for Cricket service.
 
 
In 2006, we acquired a 73.3% non-controlling membership interest in LCW Wireless, a wireless communications carrier that offers digital wireless services in Oregon through its wholly owned subsidiary, LCW Operations, under the “Cricket” brand. LCW Wireless is a “very small business” designated entity under FCC regulations. The membership interests in LCW Wireless are currently held as follows: Cricket holds a 70.7% non-controlling membership interest; CSM Wireless, LLC, or CSM, holds a 23.9% non-controlling membership interest; WLPCS Management, LLC, or WLPCS, holds a 1.9% controlling membership interest; and the remaining membership interests are held by employees of LCW Wireless.
 
LCW Operations has a senior secured credit agreement consisting of two term loans in an aggregate outstanding principal amount of approximately $18.1 million as of December 31, 2009. The loans bear interest at the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR, plus the applicable margin (ranging from 2.70% to 6.33%). In December 2009, LCW Operations amended the senior secured credit agreement to adjust the minimum consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, financial covenant. In connection with the amendment, LCW Operations was required to make a $17 million principal payment and the maturity date was brought forward three months to March 2011. Outstanding borrowings under the senior secured credit agreement are due in quarterly installments of approximately $2 million with an aggregate final payment of approximately $10 million due in March 2011. LCW Wireless’ working capital needs and debt service requirements are expected to be met through cash generated from its operations.
 
The obligations under the senior secured credit agreement are guaranteed by LCW Wireless and LCW Wireless License, and are non-recourse to Leap, Cricket and their other subsidiaries. The obligations under the senior secured credit agreement are secured by substantially all of the present and future assets of LCW Wireless and its subsidiaries. Under the senior secured credit agreement, LCW Operations and the guarantors are subject to certain limitations, including limitations on their ability to: incur additional debt or sell assets, with restrictions on the use of proceeds; make certain investments and acquisitions; grant liens; pay dividends; and make certain other restricted payments. In addition, LCW Operations will be required to pay down the facilities under certain circumstances if it or the guarantors issue debt or sell assets. The senior secured credit agreement requires that LCW Operations and the guarantors comply with financial covenants related to EBITDA, gross additions of subscribers, minimum cash and cash equivalents and maximum capital expenditures, among other things.
 
Cricket’s principal agreements with LCW Wireless and its wholly owned subsidiaries are summarized below.
 
Line of Credit Agreement.  In connection with the amendment to the senior secured credit agreement more fully described above, LCW Wireless entered into a line of credit agreement with Cricket, whereby Cricket agreed to lend to LCW Wireless a maximum of $5 million during the 30-day period immediately preceding the senior secured credit agreement maturity date of March 2011.


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Limited Liability Company Agreement.  Under the amended and restated limited liability company agreement of LCW Wireless, LLC, or the LCW LLC Agreement, a board of managers has the right and power to manage, operate and control LCW Wireless and its business and affairs, subject to certain protective provisions for the benefit of Cricket and CSM. The board of managers is currently comprised of five members, with three members designated by WLPCS (who have agreed to vote together as a block), one member designated by CSM and one member designated by Cricket. In the event that LCW Wireless fails to qualify as an “entrepreneur” and a “very small business” under FCC rules, then in certain circumstances, subject to FCC approval, WLPCS is required to sell its entire equity interest to LCW Wireless or a third party designated by the non-controlling members.
 
Under the LCW LLC Agreement, members generally may not transfer their membership interest prior to July 2011, other than to specified permitted transferees or through the exercise of put rights set forth in the LCW LLC Agreement. Thereafter, if a member desires to transfer its interests in LCW Wireless to a third party, the non-controlling members have a right of first refusal to purchase such interests on a pro rata basis.
 
Under the LCW LLC Agreement, WLPCS has the option to put its entire membership interest in LCW Wireless to Cricket for a purchase price not to exceed $3.8 million during a 30-day period commencing on the earlier to occur of August 9, 2010 and the date of a sale of all or substantially all of the assets, or the liquidation, of LCW Wireless. If the put option is exercised, the consummation of this sale will be subject to FCC approval. Alternatively, WLPCS is entitled to receive a liquidation preference equal to its capital contributions plus a specified rate of return, together with any outstanding mandatory distributions owed to WLPCS.
 
Under the LCW LLC Agreement, CSM also has the option, during specified periods, to put its entire membership interest in LCW Wireless to Cricket in exchange for either cash, Leap common stock, or a combination thereof, as determined by Cricket at its discretion, for a purchase price calculated on a pro rata basis using either the appraised value of LCW Wireless or a multiple of Leap’s enterprise value divided by its EBITDA and applied to LCW Wireless’ adjusted EBITDA to impute an enterprise value and equity value to LCW Wireless. If Cricket elects to satisfy its put obligations to CSM with Leap common stock, the obligations of the parties are conditioned upon the block of Leap common stock issuable to CSM not constituting more than five percent of Leap’s outstanding common stock at the time of issuance. Effective as of August 31, 2009, CSM exercised this put right. Pursuant to the LCW LLC Agreement, the purchase price for the put has been calculated on a pro rata basis using the appraised value of LCW Wireless, subject to certain adjustments. Based on the appraised value of LCW Wireless, the put price, as adjusted, is estimated to be approximately $21 million. We intend to satisfy the put price in cash and completion of this transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.
 
Management Agreement.  Cricket and LCW Wireless are party to a management services agreement, pursuant to which LCW Wireless has the right to obtain management services from Cricket in exchange for a monthly management fee based on Cricket’s costs of providing such services plus a mark-up for administrative overhead. The initial term of the management services agreement expires in 2014. The management services agreement may be terminated by LCW Wireless or Cricket if the other party materially breaches its obligations under the agreement, or by LCW Wireless for convenience upon prior written notice to Cricket.
 
 
In 2006, we acquired an 82.5% non-controlling membership interest in Denali, a wireless communications carrier that offers digital wireless services in the upper Midwest through its wholly owned subsidiary, Denali Operations, under the “Cricket” brand. Denali is a “very small business” designated entity under FCC regulations. Cricket and Denali Spectrum Manager, LLC, or DSM, formed Denali as a joint venture to participate (through a wholly owned subsidiary) in the FCC’s auction for AWS spectrum, or Auction #66. DSM owns a 17.5% controlling membership interest in Denali. In April 2007, Denali purchased a wireless license in Auction #66 covering the upper mid-west portion of the U.S.
 
Cricket’s principal agreements with Denali and its wholly owned subsidiaries are summarized below.
 
Limited Liability Company Agreement.  Under the amended and restated limited liability company agreement of Denali Spectrum LLC, or the Denali LLC Agreement, DSM, as the sole manager of Denali, has the exclusive right and power to manage, operate and control Denali and its business and affairs, subject to certain


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protective provisions for the benefit of Cricket, including, among other things, Cricket’s consent to the acquisition of wireless licenses or the sale of its wireless licenses or the sale of any additional membership interests. DSM can be removed as the manager of Denali in certain circumstances, including DSM’s fraud, gross negligence or willful misconduct, DSM’s insolvency or bankruptcy, or DSM’s failure to qualify as an “entrepreneur” and a “very small business” under FCC regulations, or other limited circumstances. As of December 31, 2009, Cricket and DSM had made equity contributions to Denali of approximately $83.6 million and $17.8 million, respectively.
 
Prior to April 2017, members of Denali generally may not transfer their membership interests to non-affiliates without Cricket’s prior written consent. Thereafter, if a member desires to transfer its interests in Denali to a third party, Cricket has a right of first refusal to purchase such interests or, in lieu of exercising this right, Cricket has a tag-along right to participate in the sale. DSM may offer to sell its entire membership interest in Denali to Cricket in April 2012 and each year thereafter for a purchase price equal to DSM’s equity contributions in cash to Denali, plus a specified return, payable in cash. If exercised, the consummation of the sale will be subject to FCC approval.
 
Senior Secured Credit Agreement.  In 2006, Cricket entered into a senior secured credit agreement with Denali and its subsidiaries. Pursuant to this agreement, as amended, Cricket loaned to Denali Spectrum License, LLC, or Denali License, approximately $223.4 million to fund the payment of its net winning bid in Auction #66. Under the agreement, Cricket also agreed to loan to Denali License an amount equal to $0.75 times the aggregate number of POPs covered by the license for which it was the winning bidder to fund a portion of the costs of the construction and operation of the wireless network using such license, which build-out loan sub-facility may be increased from time to time with Cricket’s approval. As of December 31, 2009, borrowings under the credit agreement totaled $527.9 million, including borrowings under the build-out sub-facility of $304.5 million. As of December 31, 2009, this build-out sub-facility had been increased from $244.5 million as of December 31, 2008 to a total of $334.5 million, approximately $30.0 million of which was unused at such date, and Leap’s board of directors has authorized management to increase the size of the build-out loan sub-facility to a total of $394.5 million. We do not anticipate making any future increases to the size of the build-out loan sub-facility beyond the amount authorized by Leap’s board of directors, and any additional funding requests beyond such amount would be subject to approval by Leap’s board of directors. Loans under the credit agreement accrue interest at the rate of 14% per annum and such interest is added to principal quarterly. All outstanding principal and accrued interest is due in April 2021. Outstanding principal and accrued interest are amortized in quarterly installments commencing in April 2017. However, if DSM makes an offer to sell its membership interest in Denali to Cricket under the Denali LLC Agreement and Cricket accepts such offer, then the amortization commencement date under the credit agreement will be extended to the first business day following the date on which Cricket has paid DSM the offer price for its membership interest in Denali. Denali License may prepay loans under the credit agreement at any time without premium or penalty. In February 2008, Cricket entered into a letter of credit and reimbursement agreement, under which Cricket agreed to use reasonable efforts to procure stand-by letters of credit from financial institutions in favor of certain vendors and lessors of Denali Operations in connection with its build-out activities, the aggregate stated amount of which may not exceed $7.5 million. Denali Operations is required to reimburse Cricket with respect to any drawing under a letter of credit, and to pay interest with respect to any unreimbursed drawing. The obligations of Denali and its subsidiaries under these agreements are secured by all of the personal property, fixtures and owned real property of Denali and its subsidiaries, subject to certain permitted liens.
 
Management Agreement.  Cricket and Denali License are party to a management services agreement, pursuant to which Cricket is to provide management services to Denali License and its subsidiaries in exchange for a monthly management fee based on Cricket’s costs of providing such services plus overhead. Under the management services agreement, Denali License retains full control and authority over its business strategy, finances, wireless licenses, network equipment, facilities and operations, including its product offerings, terms of service and pricing. The initial term of the management services agreement expires in 2016. The management services agreement may be terminated by Denali License or Cricket if the other party materially breaches its obligations under the agreement, or by Denali License for convenience upon prior written notice to Cricket.
 
We are currently discussing with DSM differences between us regarding the financial performance and expected long-term value of the joint venture. Although we continue to engage in discussions with DSM in hopes of resolving these differences, we may not be successful in doing so. If we are not successful in resolving these matters,


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we may seek to purchase all or a portion of DSM’s interest in the joint venture. Alternatively, as the controlling member of Denali, DSM could seek to terminate the management services agreement and/or trademark license between Denali and Cricket and obtain management services from a third party, or it could take other actions that we believe could negatively impact Denali’s business. Any transition to another party of the services we currently provide could significantly disrupt the joint venture’s business, negatively impact its financial and operational performance and result in significant expenses for our business.
 
 
The telecommunications industry is very competitive. In general, we compete with national facilities-based wireless providers and their prepaid affiliates or brands, local and regional carriers, non-facilities-based mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs, voice-over-internet-protocol service providers and traditional landline service providers, including cable companies. Some of these competitors are able to offer bundled service offerings which package wireless service offerings with additional service offerings, such as landline phone service, cable or satellite television, media and internet, that we may not be able to duplicate at competitive prices.
 
Some of these competitors have greater name and brand recognition, larger spectrum holdings, larger footprints, access to greater amounts of capital, greater technical, sales, marketing and distribution resources and established relationships with a larger base of current and potential customers. These advantages may allow our competitors to provide service offerings with more extensive features or options than those we currently provide, offer the latest and most popular handsets and devices through exclusive vendor arrangements, market to broader customer segments, offer service over larger geographic areas, or purchase equipment, supplies, handsets and services at lower prices than we can. As handset selection and pricing become increasingly important to customers, our inability to offer customers the latest and most popular handsets as a result of exclusive dealings between handset manufacturers and our larger competitors could put us at a significant competitive disadvantage and make it more difficult for us to attract and retain customers. In addition, some of our competitors are able to offer their customers roaming services at lower rates. As consolidation in the industry creates even larger competitors, advantages that our competitors may have, as well as their bargaining power as wholesale providers of roaming services, may increase. For example, in connection with the offering of our nationwide roaming service, we have encountered problems with certain large wireless carriers in negotiating terms for roaming arrangements that we believe are reasonable, and we believe that consolidation has contributed significantly to such carriers’ control over the terms and conditions of wholesale roaming services.
 
The competitive pressures of the wireless telecommunications industry and the attractive growth prospects in the prepaid segment have continued to increase and have caused a number of our competitors to offer competitively-priced unlimited prepaid and postpaid service offerings or increasingly large bundles of minutes of use at increasingly lower prices, which are competing with the predictable and unlimited Cricket Wireless service plans. For example, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless each offer unlimited service offerings. Sprint Nextel also offers a competitively-priced unlimited service offering under its Boost Unlimited and Virgin Mobile brands, which are similar to our Cricket Wireless service. T-Mobile also offers an unlimited plan that is competitively priced with our Cricket Wireless service. In addition, a number of MVNOs offer or have recently introduced competitively-priced service offerings. For example, Tracfone Wireless has introduced a wireless offering under its “Straight Talk” brand using Verizon’s wireless network. Moreover, some competitors offer prepaid wireless plans that are being advertised heavily to the same demographic segments we target. These various service offerings described above have presented, and are expected to continue to present, strong competition in markets in which our offerings overlap.
 
We may also face additional competition from new entrants in the wireless marketplace, many of whom may have significantly more resources than we do. The FCC is pursuing policies designed to increase the number of wireless licenses and spectrum available for the provision of wireless voice and data services in each of our markets. For example, the FCC has adopted rules that allow the partitioning, disaggregation or leasing of wireless licenses, which may increase the number of our competitors. The FCC has also in recent years allowed satellite operators to use portions of their spectrum for ancillary terrestrial use, and also permitted the offering of broadband services over power lines. In addition, the auction and licensing of new spectrum may result in new competitors and/or allow


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existing competitors to acquire additional spectrum, which could allow them to offer services that we may not technologically or cost effectively be able to offer with the licenses we hold or to which we have access.
 
Our ability to remain competitive will depend, in part, on our ability to anticipate and respond to various competitive factors and to keep our costs low. In the third quarter of 2009, we revised a number of our Cricket Wireless service plans to provide additional features previously only available in our higher-priced plans. These changes, which were made in response to the competitive and economic environment, have resulted in lower average monthly revenue per customer. In addition, a number of our competitors have introduced “all-inclusive” rate plans which are priced to include applicable regulatory fees and taxes. In the event that we were to transition the pricing of our rate plans to generally include regulatory fees and taxes, this change could further impact our revenues. The evolving competitive landscape has negatively impacted our financial and operating results, and we expect that it may result in more competitive pricing, slower growth, higher costs and increased customer turnover, as well as the possibility of requiring us to further modify our service plans, increase our handset subsidies or increase our dealer compensation in response to competition. Any of these results or actions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
 
 
In 2003, Leap, Cricket and substantially all of their subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 in federal bankruptcy court. In August 2004, our plan of reorganization became effective and we emerged from bankruptcy. On that date, a new board of directors of Leap was appointed, Leap’s previously existing stock, options and warrants were cancelled, and Leap issued 60 million shares of new Leap common stock for distribution to two classes of creditors. Leap also issued warrants to purchase 600,000 shares of new Leap common stock pursuant to a settlement agreement. A creditor trust, referred to as the Leap Creditor Trust, was formed for the benefit of Leap’s general unsecured creditors. The Leap Creditor Trust received shares of new Leap common stock for distribution to Leap’s general unsecured creditors, and certain other assets, as specified in our plan of reorganization, for liquidation by the Leap Creditor Trust with the proceeds to be distributed to holders of allowed Leap unsecured claims. The cash held in reserve by Leap immediately prior to the effective date of the plan of reorganization that remained following satisfaction of all allowed administrative claims and allowed priority claims against Leap has been distributed to the Leap Creditor Trust.
 
Our plan of reorganization implemented a comprehensive financial reorganization that significantly reduced our outstanding indebtedness. On the effective date of our plan of reorganization, our long-term indebtedness was reduced from a book value of more than $2.4 billion to indebtedness with an estimated fair value of $412.8 million, consisting of new Cricket 13% senior secured pay-in-kind notes due in 2011 with a face value of $350 million and an estimated fair value of $372.8 million, issued on the effective date of the plan of reorganization, and approximately $40 million of remaining indebtedness to the FCC (net of the repayment of $45 million of principal and accrued interest to the FCC on the effective date of the plan of reorganization). We entered into new syndicated senior secured credit facilities in January 2005, and we used a portion of the proceeds from such facilities to redeem Cricket’s 13% senior secured pay-in-kind notes and to repay our remaining approximately $41 million of outstanding indebtedness and accrued interest to the FCC.
 
Government Regulation
 
Pursuant to its authority under the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, or the Communications Act, the FCC regulates the licensing, construction, modification, operation, ownership, sale and interconnection of wireless communications systems, as do some state and local regulatory agencies. Congress also periodically revises or enacts laws affecting the telecommunications industry, as do state legislatures. Decisions by these bodies could have a significant impact on the competitive market structure among wireless providers and on the relationships between wireless providers and other carriers. These mandates may also impose significant financial, operational or service obligations on us and other wireless providers. We are unable to predict the scope, pace or financial impact of legal or policy changes that could be adopted in these proceedings.


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Licensing of our Wireless Service Systems
 
Cricket and LCW License hold broadband Personal Communications Services, or PCS, licenses, and Cricket and Denali License Sub hold AWS licenses. The licensing rules that apply to these two services are summarized below.
 
PCS Licenses.  A broadband PCS system operates under a license granted by the FCC for a particular market on one of six frequency blocks allocated for broadband PCS. Broadband PCS systems generally are used for two-way voice applications. Narrowband PCS systems, in contrast, generally are used for non-voice applications such as paging and data service and are separately licensed. The FCC has segmented the U.S. PCS markets into 51 large regions called major trading areas, or MTAs, which in turn are comprised of 493 smaller regions called basic trading areas, or BTAs. The FCC awards two broadband PCS licenses for each MTA and four licenses for each BTA. Thus, generally, six PCS licensees are authorized to compete in each area. The two MTA licenses authorize the use of 30 MHz of spectrum. One of the BTA licenses is for 30 MHz of spectrum, and the other three BTA licenses are for 10 MHz each. The FCC permits licensees to split their licenses and assign a portion to a third party on either a geographic or frequency basis or both. Over time, the FCC has also further split licenses in connection with re-auctions of PCS spectrum, creating additional 15 MHz and 10 MHz licenses.
 
All PCS licensees must satisfy minimum geographic coverage requirements within five and, in some cases, ten years after the license grant date. These initial requirements are met for most 10 MHz licenses when a signal level sufficient to provide adequate service is offered to at least one-quarter of the population of the licensed area within five years, or in the alternative, a showing of substantial service is made for the licensed area within five years of being licensed. For 30 MHz licenses, a signal level must be provided that is sufficient to offer adequate service to at least one-third of the population within five years and two-thirds of the population within ten years after the license grant date. In the alternative, 30 MHz licensees may provide substantial service to their licensed area within the appropriate five- and ten-year benchmarks. “Substantial service” is defined by the FCC as service which is “sound, favorable, and substantially above a level of mediocre service which just might minimally warrant renewal.” In general, a failure to comply with FCC coverage requirements could cause the revocation of the relevant wireless license, with no eligibility to regain it, or the imposition of fines and/or other sanctions.
 
All PCS licenses have a 10-year term, at the end of which they must be renewed. Our PCS licenses began expiring in 2006 and will continue to expire through 2015. The FCC’s rules provide a formal presumption that a PCS license will be renewed, called a “renewal expectancy,” if the PCS licensee (1) has provided “substantial service” during its past license term, and (2) has substantially complied with applicable FCC rules and policies and the Communications Act. If a licensee does not receive a renewal expectancy, then the FCC will accept competing applications for the license renewal period and, subject to a comparative hearing, may award the license to another party. If the FCC does not acknowledge a renewal expectancy with respect to one or more of our licenses, or renew one or more of our licenses, our business may be materially harmed.
 
AWS Licenses.  Recognizing the increasing consumer demand for wireless mobile services, the FCC has allocated additional spectrum that can be used for two-way mobile wireless voice and broadband services, including AWS spectrum. The FCC has licensed six frequency blocks consisting of one 20 MHz license in each of 734 cellular market areas, or CMAs; one 20 MHz license and one 10 MHz license in each of 176 economic areas, or EAs; and two 10 MHz licenses and one 20 MHz license in each of 12 regional economic area groupings, or REAGs. The FCC auctioned these licenses in Auction #66. In that auction, we purchased 99 wireless licenses for an aggregate purchase price of $710.2 million. Denali also acquired one wireless license in April 2007 through a wholly owned subsidiary for a net purchase price of $274.1 million.
 
AWS licenses generally have a 15-year term, at the end of which they must be renewed. With respect to construction requirements, an AWS licensee must offer “substantial service” to the public at the end of the license term. As noted above, a failure to comply with FCC coverage requirements could cause the revocation of the relevant wireless license, with no eligibility to regain it, or the imposition of fines and/or other sanctions.
 
Portions of the AWS spectrum that the Company and Denali License Sub were awarded in Auction #66 were subject to use by U.S. government and/or incumbent commercial licensees. The FCC rules issued in connection with Auction #66 require winning bidders to avoid interfering with existing users or to clear incumbent users from


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the spectrum through specified relocation procedures. To facilitate the clearing of this spectrum, the FCC adopted a transition and cost-sharing plan whereby incumbent non-governmental users may be reimbursed for costs they incur in relocating from the spectrum by AWS licensees benefiting from the relocation. In addition, this plan requires the AWS licensees and the applicable incumbent nongovernmental user to negotiate for a period of two or three years (depending on the type of incumbent user and whether the user is a commercial or non-commercial licensee), triggered from the time that an AWS licensee notifies the incumbent user that it desires the incumbent to relocate. If no agreement were reached during this period of time, the FCC rules require the non-governmental user to undergo involuntary relocation. The FCC rules also provide that a portion of the proceeds raised in Auction #66 be used to reimburse the costs of governmental users relocating from the AWS spectrum. Government agencies are required to relocate their systems and clear the AWS spectrum over a 12 to 72 month period, depending upon the agency. In the event that a government agency were unable to relocate its systems within the applicable timeline, the government agency would be required to accept interference from AWS carriers operating in the AWS spectrum.
 
In connection with the launch of new markets over the past two years, we and Denali worked with several incumbent government and commercial licensees to clear AWS spectrum. In the event that we or Denali determine to launch additional new markets in the future using AWS spectrum, or to enhance network coverage or capacity in other markets currently in operation, we and Denali may need to pursue further spectrum clearing efforts. Any failure to complete these efforts on time or on budget could delay the implementation of any clustering and expansion strategies that we or Denali may decide to pursue.
 
Designated Entities.  Since the early 1990’s the FCC has pursued a policy in wireless licensing of attempting to assist various types of designated entities. The FCC generally has determined that designated entities who qualify as small businesses or very small businesses, as defined by a complex set of FCC rules, can receive additional benefits. These benefits can include eligibility to bid for certain licenses set aside only for designated entities. For example, the FCC’s spectrum allocation for PCS generally includes two licenses, a 30 MHz C-Block license and a 10 MHz F-Block license, which are designated as “Entrepreneurs’ Blocks.” The FCC generally required holders of these licenses to meet certain maximum financial size qualifications for at least a five-year period. In addition, designated entities are eligible for bidding credits in most spectrum auctions and re-auctions (which has been the case in all PCS auctions to date, and was the case in Auction #66), and, in some cases, an installment loan from the federal government for a significant portion of the dollar amount of the winning bids (which was the case in the FCC’s initial auctions of C-Block and F-Block PCS licenses). A failure by an entity to maintain its qualifications to own licenses won through the designated entity program could cause a number of adverse consequences, including the ineligibility to hold licenses for which the FCC’s minimum coverage requirements have not been met, and the triggering of FCC unjust enrichment rules, which could require the recapture of bidding credits and the acceleration of any installment payments owed to the U.S. Treasury.
 
In recent years, the FCC has initiated a rulemaking proceeding focused on addressing the alleged abuses of its designated entity program. In that proceeding, the FCC re-affirmed its goals of ensuring that only legitimate small businesses benefit from the program, and that such small businesses are not controlled or manipulated by larger wireless carriers or other investors that do not meet the small business qualification tests. As a result, the FCC issued an initial round of changes aimed at curtailing certain types of spectrum leasing and wholesale capacity arrangements between wireless carriers and designated entities that it felt called into question the designated entity’s overall control of the venture. The FCC also changed its unjust enrichment rules, designed to trigger the repayment of auction bidding credits, as follows: For the first five years of its license term, if a designated entity loses its eligibility or seeks to transfer its license or to enter into a de facto lease with an entity that does not qualify for bidding credits, 100 percent of the bidding credit amount, plus interest, would be owed to the FCC. For years six and seven of the license term, 75 percent of the bidding credit, plus interest, would be owed. For years eight and nine, 50 percent of the bidding credit, plus interest, would be owed, and for year ten, 25 percent of the bidding credit, plus interest, would be owed. In addition, if a designated entity seeks to transfer a license with a bidding credit to an entity that does not qualify for bidding credits in advance of filing the construction notification for the license, then 100 percent of the bidding credit amount, plus interest, would be owed to the FCC. Designated entity structures are also now subject to a rule that requires them to seek approval for any event that might affect ongoing eligibility (e.g., changes in agreements that the FCC has not previously reviewed), as well as annual reporting requirements, and a commitment by the FCC to audit each designated entity at least once during the license term.


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While we do not believe that these recent rule changes materially affect our joint ventures with LCW Wireless and Denali, the scope and applicability of these rule changes to these designated entity structures remain in flux, and the changes remain subject to administrative and judicial review. On March 26, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected one of the pending judicial challenges to the designated entity rules. Another appeal of these rules remains pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and seeks to overturn the results of the AWS and 700 MHz auctions. In addition, third parties and the federal government have challenged certain designated entity structures alleging violations of federal law and seeking monetary damages. We cannot predict the degree to which the FCC’s present or future rule changes, increased regulatory scrutiny or federal court litigation surrounding designated entity structures will affect our current or future business ventures, including our arrangements with respect to LCW Wireless and Denali, our or Denali’s current license holdings or our participation in future FCC spectrum auctions.
 
Foreign Ownership.  Under existing law, no more than 20% of an FCC licensee’s capital stock may be owned, directly or indirectly, or voted by non-U.S. citizens or their representatives, by a foreign government or its representatives or by a foreign corporation. If an FCC licensee is controlled by another entity (as is the case with Leap’s ownership and control of subsidiaries that hold FCC licenses), up to 25% of that entity’s capital stock may be owned or voted by non-U.S. citizens or their representatives, by a foreign government or its representatives or by a foreign corporation. Foreign ownership above the 25% holding company level may be allowed if the FCC finds such higher levels consistent with the public interest. The FCC has ruled that higher levels of foreign ownership, even up to 100%, are presumptively consistent with the public interest with respect to investors from certain nations. If our foreign ownership were to exceed the permitted level, the FCC could revoke our wireless licenses, although we could seek a declaratory ruling from the FCC allowing the foreign ownership or could take other actions to reduce our foreign ownership percentage in order to avoid the loss of our licenses. We have no knowledge of any present foreign ownership in violation of these restrictions.
 
Transfer and Assignment.  The Communications Act and FCC rules require the FCC’s prior approval of the assignment or transfer of control of a commercial wireless license, with limited exceptions. The FCC may prohibit or impose conditions on assignments and transfers of control of licenses. Non-controlling interests in an entity that holds a wireless license generally may be bought or sold without FCC approval. Although we cannot assure you that the FCC will approve or act in a timely fashion upon any pending or future requests for approval of assignment or transfer of control applications that we file, in general we believe the FCC will approve or grant such requests or applications in due course. Because an FCC license is necessary to lawfully provide wireless service, if the FCC were to disapprove any such filing, our business plans would be adversely affected.
 
As of January 1, 2003, the FCC no longer imposes a capped limit on the amount of PCS and other commercial mobile radio spectrum that an entity may hold in a particular geographic market. The FCC now engages in a case-by-case review of transactions that involve the consolidation of spectrum licenses or leases and applies a more flexible spectrum “screen” in examining such transactions.
 
A C-Block or F-Block PCS license may be transferred to non-designated entities once the licensee has met its five-year coverage requirement. Such transfers will remain subject to certain costs and reimbursements to the government of any bidding credits or outstanding principal and interest payments owed to the FCC. AWS licenses acquired by designated entities in Auction #66 may be transferred to non-designated entities at any time, subject to certain costs and reimbursements to the government of any bidding credit amounts owed.
 
 
The FCC has a number of other complex requirements and proceedings that affect our operations and that could increase our costs or diminish our revenues. For example, the FCC requires wireless carriers to make available emergency 911, or E911, services, including enhanced E911 services that provide the caller’s telephone number and detailed location information to emergency responders, as well as a requirement that E911 services be made available to users with speech or hearing disabilities. Our obligations to implement these services occur on a market-by-market basis as emergency service providers request the implementation of enhanced E911 services in their locales. Absent a waiver, a failure to comply with these requirements could subject us to significant penalties. Furthermore, the FCC has initiated a comprehensive re-examination of E911 location accuracy and reliability requirements. In connection with this re-examination, the FCC issued an order requiring wireless carriers to satisfy


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E911 location and reliability standards at a geographical level defined by the coverage area of a Public Safety Answering Point (or PSAP) and has indicated that further action may be taken in future proceedings to establish more stringent, uniform location accuracy requirements across technologies, and to promote continuing development of technologies that might enable carriers to provide public safety with better information for locating persons in the event of an emergency. We cannot predict whether or how such actions will affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
 
FCC rules also require that local exchange carriers and most commercial mobile radio service providers, including providers like Cricket, allow customers to change service providers without changing telephone numbers. For wireless service providers, this mandate is referred to as wireless local number portability. The FCC also has adopted rules governing the porting of wireline telephone numbers to wireless carriers.
 
The FCC has the authority to order interconnection between commercial mobile radio service operators and incumbent local exchange carriers, and FCC rules provide that all local exchange carriers must enter into compensation arrangements with commercial mobile radio service carriers for the exchange of local traffic, whereby each carrier compensates the other for terminating local traffic originating on the other carrier’s network. As a commercial mobile radio services provider, we are required to pay compensation to a wireline local exchange carrier that transports and terminates a local call that originated on our network. Similarly, we are entitled to receive compensation when we transport and terminate a local call that originated on a wireline local exchange network. We negotiate interconnection arrangements for our network with major incumbent local exchange carriers and other independent telephone companies. If an agreement cannot be reached, under certain circumstances, parties to interconnection negotiations can submit outstanding disputes to state authorities for arbitration. Negotiated interconnection agreements are subject to state approval. The FCC’s interconnection rules and rulings, as well as state arbitration proceedings, will directly impact the nature and costs of facilities necessary for the interconnection of our network with other telecommunications networks. They will also determine the amount we receive for terminating calls originating on the networks of local exchange carriers and other telecommunications carriers. The FCC is currently considering changes to its intercarrier compensation arrangements and various aspects of the FCC’s intercarrier compensation regime are subject to review before the agency, state regulatory bodies or federal or state courts. The outcome of such proceedings may affect the manner in which we are charged or compensated for the exchange of traffic.
 
The FCC has adopted a report and order clarifying that commercial mobile radio service providers are required to provide automatic roaming for voice and SMS text messaging services on just, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. The FCC order, however, does not address roaming for data services nor does it provide or mandate any specific mechanism for determining the reasonableness of roaming rates for voice services, and so our ability to obtain roaming services from other carriers at attractive rates remains uncertain. In addition, the FCC order indicates that a host carrier is not required to provide roaming services to another carrier in areas in which that other carrier holds wireless licenses or usage rights that could be used to provide wireless services. Because we and Denali License Sub hold a significant number of spectrum licenses covering markets in which service has not yet been launched, we believe that this “in-market” roaming restriction could significantly and adversely affect our ability to receive roaming services in areas where we hold licenses. We and other wireless carriers have filed petitions with the FCC, asking that the agency reconsider this in-market exception to its roaming order. However, we can provide no assurances as to whether the FCC will reconsider this exception or the time-frame in which it might do so. Our inability to obtain these roaming services on a cost-effective basis may limit our ability to compete effectively for wireless customers, which may increase our churn and decrease our revenues, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
In its approval of Verizon Wireless’s purchase of Alltel Wireless, the FCC imposed conditions that allow carriers like us that have roaming agreements with both Verizon Wireless and Alltel Wireless to choose which agreement will govern all roaming traffic exchanged with the post-merger Verizon Wireless for at least four years after the date of the closing of the transaction. We and others have petitioned the FCC to clarify or reconsider these requirements, and we cannot predict the outcome of the FCC’s action on such petitions, or whether the conditions imposed on Verizon Wireless will provide meaningful relief with respect to certain of Verizon Wireless’ roaming practices.


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In 2007, the FCC released an order implementing certain recommendations of an independent panel reviewing the impact of Hurricane Katrina on communications networks, which requires wireless carriers to provide emergency back-up power sources for their equipment and facilities, including 24 hours of emergency power for mobile switch offices and up to eight hours for cell site locations. In the wake of challenges to this order in a federal court of appeal and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the back-up power rules have not taken effect and the FCC has indicated that it plans to seek comment on revised back-up power rules applicable to wireless providers. We are unable to predict the outcome of any such further proceeding, future back-up power requirements that may be adopted, or the effect of any such requirements on our business.
 
The FCC recently commenced a comprehensive rulemaking proceeding to codify and supplement Internet openness principles (sometimes referred to as “network neutrality” principles). These proposed rules are intended to ensure that consumers are able to access the lawful Internet content, applications, and services of their choice, and to attach non-harmful devices to the network. In addition, Internet access providers would be prohibited from discriminating against particular Internet content or applications — though there would be allowance for reasonable network management by network operators — and Internet access providers also would be required to provide information regarding their network management practices. This proceeding could have significant operational implications for owners and operators of telecommunications networks, including how they manage traffic on their networks, as well as the applications and devices that can be used on such networks. The FCC has expressly sought comment regarding how its proposed openness obligations should be applied to wireless carriers. We are participating actively in this proceeding, but cannot predict how it will affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
The FCC has adopted rules requiring interstate communications carriers, including commercial mobile wireless carriers, to contribute to a Universal Service Fund, or USF, that reimburses communications carriers who are providing subsidized basic communications services to underserved areas and users. The FCC requires carriers providing both intrastate and interstate services to determine their percentage of traffic which is interstate and the FCC has also adopted a safe-harbor percentage of interstate traffic for CMRS carriers. The FCC has rulemaking proceedings pending in which it is considering a comprehensive reform of the manner in which it assesses carrier USF contributions, how carriers may recover their costs from customers and how USF funds will be distributed among and between states, carriers and services. Some of these proposals may cause the amount of USF contributions required from us and our customer to increase. A failure to comply with our USF obligations could subject us to significant fines or forfeitures.
 
Wireless carriers may be designated as Eligible Telecommunications Carriers, or ETCs, and may receive universal service support for providing service to customers using wireless service in high cost areas or to certain qualifying low income customers. Certain competing wireless carriers operating in states where we operate have obtained or applied for ETC status. Their receipt of universal service support funds may affect our competitive status in a particular market by allowing our competitors to offer service at a lower rate or for free, subsidized by the USF. The FCC is considering altering, reducing, or capping the amount of universal support received by commercial mobile wireless ETC providers. In May 2008, the FCC adopted an interim cap on payments to ETCs under the USF relating to providing wireless service in high cost areas, pending comprehensive reform that is now under consideration by the agency. One of our former subsidiaries obtained designation as an ETC in South Carolina, and we have applied for ETC designation in certain other qualifying high cost areas.
 
We also are subject, or potentially subject, to numerous additional rules and requirements, including number pooling rules; rules governing billing, subscriber privacy and customer proprietary network information; roaming obligations; rules that require wireless service providers to configure their networks to facilitate electronic surveillance by law enforcement officials; rate averaging and integration requirements; rules governing spam, telemarketing and truth-in-billing; and rules requiring us to offer equipment and services that are accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, among others. There are also pending proceedings exploring the prohibition of handset exclusivity; the possible re-imposition of bright-line spectrum aggregation requirements; further regulation of special access used for wireless backhaul services; and the effects of the siting of communications towers on migratory birds, among others. Some of these requirements and pending proceedings (of which the foregoing examples are not an exhaustive list) pose technical and operational challenges to which we, and the industry as a whole, have not yet


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developed clear solutions. These requirements generally are the subject of pending FCC or judicial proceedings, and we are unable to predict how they may affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
 
 
Congress has given the FCC the authority to preempt states from regulating rates or entry into commercial mobile radio service. The FCC, to date, has denied all state petitions to regulate the rates charged by commercial mobile radio service providers. State and local governments are permitted to manage public rights of way and can require fair and reasonable compensation from telecommunications providers, on a competitively neutral and nondiscriminatory basis, for the use of such rights of way by telecommunications carriers, including commercial mobile radio service providers, so long as the compensation required is publicly disclosed by the state or local government. States may also impose competitively neutral requirements that are necessary for universal service, to protect the public safety and welfare, to ensure continued service quality and to safeguard the rights of consumers. While a state may not impose requirements that effectively function as barriers to entry or create a competitive disadvantage, the scope of state authority to maintain existing requirements or to adopt new requirements is unclear. State legislators, public utility commissions and other state agencies are becoming increasingly active in efforts to regulate wireless carriers and the service they provide, including efforts to conserve numbering resources and efforts aimed at regulating service quality, advertising, warranties and returns, rebates, and other consumer protection measures.
 
The location and construction of our wireless antennas and base stations and the towers we lease on which such antennas are located are subject to FCC and Federal Aviation Administration regulations, federal, state and local environmental and historic preservation regulations, and state and local zoning, land use or other requirements.
 
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, prohibits the circumvention of technological measures employed to protect a copyrighted work, or access control. However, under the DMCA, the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress, or the Copyright Office, has the authority to exempt for three years certain activities from copyright liability that otherwise might be prohibited by that statute. In November 2006, the Copyright Office granted an exemption to the DMCA to allow circumvention of software locks and other firmware that prohibit a wireless handset from connecting to a wireless network when such circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting the wireless handset to another wireless telephone network. This exemption was due to expire on October 27, 2009 and was temporarily extended. The DMCA copyright exemption facilitates our current practice of allowing customers to bring in unlocked, or “reflashed,” phones that they already own and may have used with another wireless carrier, and activate them on our network. We and other carriers have asked the Copyright Office to extend the current or substantially similar exemption for another three-year period. However, we are unable to predict the outcome of the Copyright Office’s determination to continue the exemption for this time period or the effect that a Copyright Office decision not to extend the exemption might have on our business.
 
We cannot assure you that any federal, state or local regulatory requirements currently applicable to our systems will not be changed in the future or that regulatory requirements will not be adopted in those states and localities that currently have none. Such changes could impose new obligations on us that could adversely affect our operating results.
 
 
We are obligated to comply with a variety of federal and state privacy and consumer protection requirements. The Communications Act and FCC rules, for example, impose various rules on us intended to protect against the disclosure of customer proprietary network information. Other FCC and Federal Trade Commission rules regulate the disclosure and sharing of subscriber information. We have developed and comply with a policy designed to protect the privacy of our customers and their personal information. State legislatures and regulators are considering imposing additional requirements on companies to further protect the privacy of wireless customers. Our need to comply with these rules, and to address complaints by subscribers invoking them, could adversely affect our operating results.


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We have pursued registration of our primary trademarks and service marks in the United States. Leap is a U.S. registered trademark and the Leap logo is a trademark of Leap. Cricket, Cricket Wireless, Cricket Clicks, Jump, Jump Mobile, Flex Bucket, Real Unlimited Unreal Savings and the Cricket “K” are U.S. registered trademarks of Cricket. In addition, the following are trademarks or service marks of Cricket: BridgePay, Cricket By Week, Cricket Choice, Cricket Connect, Cricket Nation, Cricket PAYGo, MyPerks and Cricket MyPerks and Cricket Wireless Internet Service. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
 
We also have several patents and have several patent applications pending in the United States relating to telecommunications and related services. However, our business is not substantially dependent upon any of our patents or patent applications. We believe that our technical expertise, operational efficiency, industry-leading cost structure and ability to introduce new products in a timely manner are more critical to maintaining our competitive position in the future.
 
 
As soon as is reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, our proxy statements, annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and any amendments to those reports, are available free of charge at www.leapwireless.com. They are also available free of charge on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. In addition, any materials filed with the SEC may be read and copied by the public at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, NE, Washington, DC 20549. The public may obtain information on the operation of the Public Reference Room by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330. The information on our website is not part of this report or any other report that we furnish to or file with the SEC.
 
 
Financial information concerning our operating segment and the geographic area in which we operate is included in “Part II — Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of this report.
 
 
As of December 31, 2009, Cricket employed 4,202 full-time employees, and Leap had no employees.
 
 
Our customer activity is influenced by seasonal effects related to traditional retail selling periods and other factors that arise in connection with our target customer base. Based on historical results, we generally expect new sales activity to be highest in the first and fourth quarters for markets in operation for one year or longer, and customer turnover, or churn, to be highest in the third quarter and lowest in the first quarter. In newly launched markets, we expect to initially experience a greater degree of customer turnover due to the number of customers new to Cricket service, but generally expect that churn will gradually improve as the average tenure of customers in such markets increases. Sales activity and churn, however, can be strongly affected by other factors, including promotional activity, economic conditions and competitive actions, any of which may have the ability to reduce or outweigh certain seasonal effects or the relative amount of time a market has been in operation.
 
 
We believe that inflation has not had a material effect on our results of operations.


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Name
 
Age
 
Position with the Company
 
S. Douglas Hutcheson
    53     Chief Executive Officer, President and Director
Albin F. Moschner
    57     Chief Operating Officer
Walter Z. Berger
    54     Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Glenn T. Umetsu
    60     Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Officer
William D. Ingram
    52     Senior Vice President, Strategy
Robert J. Irving, Jr. 
    54     Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary
Jeffrey E. Nachbor
    45     Senior Vice President, Financial Operations and Chief Accounting Officer
Leonard C. Stephens
    53     Senior Vice President, Human Resources
 
S. Douglas Hutcheson has served as our chief executive officer, or CEO, president and a member of our board of directors since February 2005. Mr. Hutcheson has held a number of positions with us since joining in September 1998 as part of our founding management team, having served as our chief financial officer, or CFO, between August 2002 and February 2005 and again between September 2007 and June 2008, and also having served in a number of vice president roles between September 1998 and January 2004 with responsibility for areas including strategic planning and product and business development. From February 1995 to September 1998, Mr. Hutcheson served as vice president, marketing in the Wireless Infrastructure Division at Qualcomm Incorporated. Mr. Hutcheson holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from California Polytechnic University and an M.B.A. from the University of California, Irvine.
 
Albin F. Moschner has served as our chief operating officer since July 2008, having previously served as our executive vice president and chief marketing officer from January 2005 to July 2008, and as our senior vice president, marketing from September 2004 to January 2005. Prior to this, Mr. Moschner was president of Verizon Card Services from December 2000 to November 2003. Prior to joining Verizon, Mr. Moschner was president and chief executive officer of OnePoint Services, Inc., a telecommunications company that he founded and that was acquired by Verizon in December 2000. Mr. Moschner also was a principal and the vice chairman of Diba, Inc., a development stage internet software company, and served as senior vice president of operations, a member of the board of directors and ultimately president and chief executive officer of Zenith Electronics from October 1991 to July 1996. Mr. Moschner holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Syracuse University and a B.E. in electrical engineering from the City College of New York.
 
Walter Z. Berger has served as our executive vice president and chief financial officer since June 2008. From 2006 to 2008, Mr. Berger served in senior management roles at CBS Corporation, including as executive vice president and chief financial officer for CBS Radio, a division of CBS Corporation. Prior to joining CBS Radio, Mr. Berger served as executive vice president and chief financial officer and a director of Emmis Communications from 1999 to 2005. From 1996 to 1997, Mr. Berger served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of LG&E Energy Corporation and in 1997 was promoted to group president of the Energy Marketing Division, where he served until 1999. From 1985 to 1996, Mr. Berger held a number of financial and operating management roles in the manufacturing, service and energy fields. Mr. Berger began his career in audit at Arthur Andersen in 1977. Mr. Berger holds a B.A. in business administration from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
 
Glenn T. Umetsu has served as our executive vice president and chief technical officer since January 2005, having previously served as our executive vice president and chief operating officer from January 2004 to January 2005, as our senior vice president, engineering operations and launch deployment from June 2002 to January 2004, and as vice president, engineering operations and launch development from April 2000 to June 2002. From September 1996 to April 2000, Mr. Umetsu served as vice president, engineering and technical operations for Cellular One in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before Cellular One, Mr. Umetsu served in various telecommunications operations roles for 24 years with AT&T Wireless, McCaw Communications, RAM Mobile Data, Honolulu Cellular, PacTel Cellular, AT&T Advanced Mobile Phone Service, Northwestern Bell and the United States Air Force. Mr. Umetsu holds a B.A. in mathematics and economics from Brown University.


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William D. Ingram has served as our senior vice president, strategy since February 2008, having previously served as a consultant to us since August 2007. Prior to joining us, Mr. Ingram served as vice president and general manager of AudioCodes, Inc., a telecommunications equipment company from July 2006 to March 2007. Prior to that, Mr. Ingram served as the president and chief executive officer of Nuera Communications, Inc., a provider of VoIP infrastructure solutions, from September 1996 until it was acquired by AudioCodes, Inc. in July 2006. Prior to joining Nuera Communications in 1996, Mr. Ingram served as the chief operating officer of the clarity products division of Pacific Communication Sciences, Inc., a provider of wireless data communications products, as president of Ivie Industries, Inc. a computer security and hardware manufacturer, and as president of KevTon, Inc. an electronics manufacturing company. Mr. Ingram holds an A.B. in economics from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
 
Robert J. Irving, Jr. has served as our senior vice president, general counsel and secretary since May 2003, having previously served as our vice president, legal from August 2002 to May 2003, and as our senior legal counsel from September 1998 to August 2002. Previously, Mr. Irving served as administrative counsel for Rohr, Inc., a corporation that designed and manufactured aerospace products from 1991 to 1998, and prior to that served as vice president, general counsel and secretary for IRT Corporation, a corporation that designed and manufactured x-ray inspection equipment. Before joining IRT Corporation, Mr. Irving was an attorney at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Mr. Irving was admitted to the California Bar Association in 1982. Mr. Irving holds a B.A. from Stanford University, an M.P.P. from The John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
 
Jeffrey E. Nachbor has served as our senior vice president, financial operations and chief accounting officer since May 2008, having previously served as our senior vice president, financial operations since April 2008. From September 2005 to March 2008, Mr. Nachbor served as the senior vice president and corporate controller for H&R Block, Inc. Prior to that, Mr. Nachbor served as senior vice president and chief financial officer of Sharper Image Corporation from February 2005 to August 2005 and served as senior vice president, corporate controller of Staples, Inc. from April 2003 to February 2005. Mr. Nachbor served as vice president of finance of Victoria’s Secret Direct, a division of Limited Brands, Inc., from December 2000 to April 2003, and as vice president of financial planning and analysis for Limited Brands, Inc. from February 2000 to December 2000. Mr. Nachbor is a certified public accountant and holds a B.S. in Accounting from Old Dominion University and an M.B.A. in Finance and Accounting from the University of Kansas.
 
Leonard C. Stephens has served as our senior vice president, human resources since our formation in June 1998. From December 1995 to September 1998, Mr. Stephens was vice president, human resources operations for Qualcomm Incorporated. Before joining Qualcomm Incorporated, Mr. Stephens was employed by Pfizer Inc., where he served in a number of human resources positions over a 14-year period. Mr. Stephens holds a B.A. from Howard University.


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Item 1A.   Risk Factors
 
Risks Related to Our Business and Industry
 
 
We experienced net losses of $238.0 million, $143.4 million and $76.4 million for the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively. We may not generate profits in the future on a consistent basis or at all. Our strategic objectives depend on our ability to successfully and cost-effectively operate our existing and newly launched markets, on our ability to respond appropriately to changes in the competitive and economic environment, and on customer acceptance of our Cricket product offerings. We have experienced increased expenses in connection with our launch of significant new business expansion efforts, including activities to broaden our product portfolio and to enhance our network coverage and capacity. If we fail to attract additional customers for our Cricket products and services and fail to achieve consistent profitability in the future, that failure could have a negative effect on our financial condition.
 
 
Our growth on a quarter-by-quarter basis has varied substantially in the past. We believe that this uneven growth generally reflects seasonal trends in customer activity, promotional activity, competition in the wireless telecommunications market, our pace of new market launches and varying national economic conditions. Our current business plans assume that we will continue to increase our customer base over time, providing us with increased economies of scale. Our ability to continue to grow our customer base and achieve the customer penetration levels we currently believe are possible in our markets is subject to a number of risks, including, among other things, increased competition from existing or new competitors, higher than anticipated churn, our inability to increase our network capacity to meet increasing customer demand, unfavorable economic conditions (which may have a disproportionate negative impact on portions of our customer base), changes in the demographics of our markets, adverse changes in the legislative and regulatory environment and other factors that may limit our ability to grow our customer base. If we are unable to attract and retain a growing customer base, our current business plans and financial outlook may be harmed.
 
 
The telecommunications industry is very competitive. In general, we compete with national facilities-based wireless providers and their prepaid affiliates or brands, local and regional carriers, non-facilities-based MVNOs, voice-over-internet-protocol service providers, traditional landline service providers and cable companies. Some of these competitors are able to offer bundled service offerings which package wireless service offerings with additional service offerings, such as landline phone service, cable or satellite television, media and internet, that we may not be able to duplicate at competitive prices.
 
Some of these competitors have greater name and brand recognition, larger spectrum holdings, larger footprints, access to greater amounts of capital, greater technical, sales, marketing and distribution resources and established relationships with a larger base of current and potential customers. These advantages may allow our competitors to provide service offerings with more extensive features or options than those we currently provide, offer the latest and most popular handsets and devices through exclusive vendor arrangements, market to broader customer segments, offer service over larger geographic areas, or purchase equipment, supplies, handsets and services at lower prices than we can. As handset selection and pricing become increasingly important to customers, our inability to offer customers the latest and most popular handsets as a result of exclusive dealings between handset manufacturers and our larger competitors could put us at a significant competitive disadvantage and make it more difficult for us to attract and retain customers. In addition, some of our competitors are able to offer their customers roaming services at lower rates. As consolidation in the industry creates even larger competitors, advantages that our competitors may have, as well as their bargaining power as wholesale providers of roaming services, may increase. For example, in connection with the offering of our nationwide roaming service, we have encountered problems with certain large wireless carriers in negotiating terms for roaming arrangements that we


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believe are reasonable, and we believe that consolidation has contributed significantly to such carriers’ control over the terms and conditions of wholesale roaming services.
 
The competitive pressures of the wireless telecommunications industry and the attractive growth prospects in the prepaid segment have continued to increase and have caused a number of our competitors to offer competitively-priced unlimited prepaid and postpaid service offerings or increasingly large bundles of minutes of use at increasingly lower prices, which are competing with the predictable and unlimited Cricket Wireless service plans. For example, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless each offer unlimited service offerings. Sprint Nextel also offers a competitively-priced unlimited service offering under its Boost Unlimited and Virgin Mobile brands, which are similar to our Cricket Wireless service. T-Mobile also offers an unlimited plan that is competitively priced with our Cricket Wireless service. In addition, a number of MVNOs offer or have recently introduced competitively-priced service offerings. For example, Tracfone Wireless has introduced a wireless offering under its “Straight Talk” brand using Verizon’s wireless network. Moreover, some competitors offer prepaid wireless plans that are being advertised heavily to the same demographic segments we target. These various service offerings described above have presented, and are expected to continue to present, strong competition in markets in which our offerings overlap.
 
We may also face additional competition from new entrants in the wireless marketplace, many of whom may have significantly more resources than we do. The FCC is pursuing policies designed to increase the number of wireless licenses and spectrum available for the provision of wireless voice and data services in each of our markets. For example, the FCC has adopted rules that allow the partitioning, disaggregation or leasing of wireless licenses, which may increase the number of our competitors. The FCC has also in recent years allowed satellite operators to use portions of their spectrum for ancillary terrestrial use, and also permitted the offering of broadband services over power lines. In addition, the auction and licensing of new spectrum may result in new competitors and/or allow existing competitors to acquire additional spectrum, which could allow them to offer services that we may not technologically or cost effectively be able to offer with the licenses we hold or to which we have access.
 
Our ability to remain competitive will depend, in part, on our ability to anticipate and respond to various competitive factors and to keep our costs low. In the third quarter of 2009, we revised a number of our Cricket Wireless service plans to provide additional features previously only available in our higher-priced plans. These changes, which were made in response to the competitive and economic environment, have resulted in lower average monthly revenue per customer. In addition, a number of our competitors have introduced “all-inclusive” rate plans which are priced to include applicable regulatory fees and taxes. In the event that we were to transition the pricing of our rate plans to generally include regulatory fees and taxes, this change could further impact our revenues. The evolving competitive landscape has negatively impacted our financial and operating results, and we expect that it may result in more competitive pricing, slower growth, higher costs and increased customer turnover, as well as the possibility of requiring us to further modify our service plans, increase our handset subsidies or increase our dealer compensation in response to competition. Any of these results or actions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
 
 
Our business and financial performance are sensitive to changes in general economic conditions, including changes in interest rates, consumer credit conditions, consumer debt levels, consumer confidence, rates of inflation (or concerns about deflation), unemployment rates, energy costs and other macro-economic factors. Market and economic conditions have been unprecedented and challenging in recent years. Continued concerns about the systemic impact of a long-term downturn, high unemployment, high energy costs, the availability and cost of credit and unstable housing and mortgage markets have contributed to increased market volatility and diminished expectations for the economy. Concern about the stability of the financial markets and the strength of counterparties has led many lenders and institutional investors to reduce or cease to provide credit to businesses and consumers, and illiquid credit markets have adversely affected the cost and availability of credit. These factors have led to a decrease in spending by businesses and consumers alike.
 
Continued market turbulence and weak economic conditions may materially adversely affect our business and financial performance in a number of ways. Because we do not require customers to sign fixed-term contracts or


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pass a credit check, our service is available to a broad customer base. As a result, during general economic downturns, we may have greater difficulty in gaining new customers within this base for our services and existing customers may be more likely to terminate service due to an inability to pay. For example, rising unemployment levels have recently impacted our customer base, especially the lower-income segment of our customer base, by decreasing their discretionary income which has resulted in higher levels of churn. Continued recessionary conditions and tight credit conditions may also adversely impact our vendors and dealers, some of which have filed for or may be considering bankruptcy, or may experience cash flow or liquidity problems, any of which could adversely impact our ability to distribute, market or sell our products and services. For example, in 2009, Nortel Networks, which has provided a significant amount of our network infrastructure, sold substantially all of its network infrastructure business to Ericsson. As a result, sustained difficult, or worsening, general economic conditions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
In addition, general economic conditions have significantly affected the ability of many companies to raise additional funding in the capital markets. U.S. credit markets have experienced significant dislocations and liquidity disruptions which have caused the spreads on prospective debt financings to widen considerably. These circumstances materially impacted liquidity in the debt markets, making financing terms for borrowers less attractive and resulting in the unavailability of some forms of debt financing. Uncertainty in the credit markets could negatively impact our ability to access additional debt financing or to refinance existing indebtedness in the future on favorable terms or at all. These general economic conditions, combined with intensified competition in the wireless telecommunications industry and other factors, have also adversely affected the trading prices of equity securities of many U.S. companies, including Leap, which could significantly limit our ability to raise additional capital through the issuance of common stock, preferred stock or other equity securities. Any of these risks could impair our ability to fund our operations or limit our ability to expand our business, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
Our rates of customer acquisition and turnover are affected by a number of competitive factors in addition to the macro-economic factors described above, including the size of our calling areas, network performance and reliability issues, our handset and service offerings (including the ability of customers to cost-effectively roam onto other wireless networks), customer perceptions of our services, customer care quality and wireless number portability. We have also experienced an increasing trend of current customers upgrading their handset by buying a new phone, activating a new line of service, and letting their existing service lapse, which trend has resulted in a higher churn rate as these customers are counted as having disconnected service but have actually been retained. Managing these factors and customers’ expectations is essential in attracting and retaining customers. Although we have implemented programs to attract new customers and address customer turnover, we cannot assure you that these programs or our strategies to address customer acquisition and turnover will be successful. In addition, we and Denali Operations launched a significant number of new Cricket markets in 2008 and 2009. In newly launched markets, we expect to initially experience a greater degree of customer turnover due to the number of customers new to Cricket service, although we generally expect that churn will gradually improve as the average tenure of customers in such markets increases. A high rate of customer turnover or low rate of new customer acquisition would reduce revenues and increase the total marketing expenditures required to attract the minimum number of customers required to sustain our business plan which, in turn, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
We own a 70.7% non-controlling interest in LCW Wireless, which was awarded a wireless license for the Portland, Oregon market in Auction #58 and to which we contributed, among other things, two wireless licenses in Eugene and Salem, Oregon and related operating assets. CSM has exercised its right to put its entire membership interest in LCW Wireless to Cricket, which upon consummation would have the effect of increasing Cricket’s ownership interest to 94.6%. We also own an 82.5% non-controlling interest in Denali, an entity which acquired a wireless license covering the upper mid-west portion of the U.S in Auction #66 through a wholly owned subsidiary.


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LCW Wireless and Denali acquired their wireless licenses as “very small business” designated entities under FCC regulations. Our participation in these joint ventures is structured as a non-controlling interest in order to comply with FCC rules and regulations. We have agreements with our joint venture partners in LCW Wireless and Denali that are intended to allow us to actively participate to a limited extent in the development of the business through the joint venture. However, these agreements do not provide us with control over the business strategy, financial goals, build-out plans or other operational aspects of the joint venture, and may be terminated for convenience by the controlling member. The FCC’s rules restrict our ability to acquire controlling interests in such entities during the period that such entities must maintain their eligibility as a designated entity, as defined by the FCC.
 
The entities or persons that control these joint ventures or any other joint venture in which we may invest may have interests and goals that are inconsistent or different from ours which could result in the joint venture taking actions that negatively impact our business or financial condition. For example, we are currently discussing with DSM differences between us regarding the financial performance and expected long-term value of the joint venture. Although we continue to engage in discussions with DSM in hopes of resolving these differences, we may not be successful in doing so. If we are not successful in resolving these matters, we may seek to purchase all or a portion of DSM’s interest in the joint venture, which could represent a significant cash outflow. Alternatively, as the controlling member of Denali, DSM could seek to terminate the management services agreement and/or trademark license between Denali and Cricket and obtain management services from a third party, or it could take other actions that we believe could negatively impact Denali’s business. Any transition to another party of the services we currently provide could significantly disrupt the joint venture’s business, negatively impact its financial and operational performance and result in significant expenses for our business. As a result, any transition of management services to another party, or other material operational or financial disruptions to the joint venture, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
 
If any of the members of our joint ventures files for bankruptcy or otherwise fails to perform its obligations or does not manage the joint venture effectively, or if the joint venture files for bankruptcy, we may lose our equity investment in, and any present or future opportunity to acquire the assets (including wireless licenses) of, such entity (although a substantial portion of our investment in Denali consists of secured debt).
 
The FCC has implemented rule changes aimed at addressing alleged abuses of its designated entity program. While we do not believe that these recent rule changes materially affect our joint ventures with LCW Wireless and Denali, the scope and applicability of these rule changes to these designated entity structures remain in flux, and the changes remain subject to administrative and judicial review. On March 26, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected one of the pending judicial challenges to the designated entity rules. Another appeal of these rules remains pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and seeks to overturn the results of the AWS and 700 MHz auctions. In addition, third parties and the federal government have challenged certain designated entity structures alleging violations of federal law and seeking monetary damages. We cannot predict the degree to which rule changes, federal court litigation surrounding designated entity structures, increased regulatory scrutiny or third party or government lawsuits will affect our current or future business ventures, including our arrangements with respect to LCW Wireless and Denali, or our or Denali’s current license holdings or our participation in future FCC spectrum auctions.
 
 
We believe that our customers prefer that we offer roaming services that allow them to make calls automatically using the networks of other carriers when they are outside of their Cricket service area. Many of our competitors have regional or national networks which enable them to offer automatic roaming services to their subscribers at a lower cost than we can offer. We do not have a national network, and we must pay fees to other carriers who provide roaming services to us. We currently rely on roaming agreements with several carriers for the majority of our roaming services. Our roaming agreements generally cover voice but not data services and some of these agreements may be terminated on relatively short notice. In addition, we believe that the rates charged to us by some of these carriers are higher than the rates they charge to certain other roaming partners.


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The FCC has adopted a report and order clarifying that commercial mobile radio service providers are required to provide automatic roaming for voice and SMS text messaging services on just, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. The FCC order, however, does not address roaming for data services nor does it provide or mandate any specific mechanism for determining the reasonableness of roaming rates for voice or SMS text messaging services, and so our ability to obtain roaming services from other carriers at rates that we believe are reasonable remains uncertain. In addition, the FCC order indicates that a host carrier is not required to provide roaming services to another carrier in areas in which that other carrier holds wireless licenses or usage rights that could be used to provide wireless services. Because we and Denali License Sub hold a significant number of spectrum licenses for markets in which service has not yet been launched, we believe that this “in-market” roaming restriction could significantly and adversely affect our ability to receive roaming services in areas where we hold licenses. We and other wireless carriers have filed petitions with the FCC, asking that the agency reconsider this in-market exception to its roaming order. However, we can provide no assurances as to whether the FCC will reconsider this exception or the timeframe in which it might do so.
 
In light of the current FCC order, we cannot provide assurances that we will be able to continue to provide roaming services for our customers across the nation or that we will be able to provide such services on a cost effective basis. We may be unable to enter into or maintain roaming arrangements for voice services at reasonable rates, including in areas in which we hold wireless licenses or have usage rights but have not yet constructed wireless facilities, and we may be unable to secure reasonable roaming arrangements for our data services. Our inability to obtain these roaming services on a cost-effective basis may limit our ability to compete effectively for wireless customers, which may increase our churn and decrease our revenues, which in turn could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
As discussed in Note 2 to our consolidated financial statements included in “Part II — Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of our Annual Report on Form 10-K, as amended, for the year ended December 31, 2006, filed with the SEC on December 26, 2007, we restated our consolidated financial statements as of and for the years ended December 31, 2006 and 2005 (including interim periods therein), for the period from August 1, 2004 to December 31, 2004 and for the period from January 1, 2004 to July 31, 2004. In addition, we restated our condensed consolidated financial statements as of and for the quarterly periods ended June 30, 2007 and March 31, 2007. The determination to restate these consolidated financial statements and quarterly condensed consolidated financial statements was made by Leap’s Audit Committee upon management’s recommendation following the identification of errors related to (i) the timing and recognition of certain service revenues and operating expenses, (ii) the recognition of service revenues for certain customers that voluntarily disconnected service, (iii) the classification of certain components of service revenues, equipment revenues and operating expenses and (iv) the determination of a tax valuation allowance during the second quarter of 2007.
 
As a result of these events, we became subject to a number of additional risks and uncertainties, including substantial unanticipated costs for accounting and legal fees in connection with or related to the restatement. In addition, two shareholder derivative actions are currently pending, and we are party to a consolidated securities class action lawsuit. As described in “Part I — Item 3. Legal Proceedings” of this report, we have reached an agreement in principle to settle the securities class action lawsuit. In addition, we have entered into discussions to settle the derivative suits, although no assurances can be given that we will be successful in doing so. If these matters do not settle on terms we consider reasonable, we could be required to pay substantial damages or settlement costs, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 requires companies to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of their internal control over financial reporting. To comply with this statute, each year we are required to document and test our internal control over financial reporting; our management is required to assess and issue a report concerning our internal control over financial reporting; and our independent registered public accounting firm is required to report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting.


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In our quarterly and annual reports (as amended) for the periods ended from December 31, 2006 through September 30, 2008, we reported a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting which related to the design of controls over the preparation and review of the account reconciliations and analysis of revenues, cost of revenue and deferred revenues, and ineffective testing of changes made to our revenue and billing systems in connection with the introduction or modification of service offerings. As described in “Part II — Item 9A. Controls and Procedures” of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2008, filed with the SEC on February 27, 2009, we took a number of actions to remediate this material weakness, which included reviewing and designing enhancements to certain of our systems and processes relating to revenue recognition and user acceptance testing and hiring and promoting additional accounting personnel with the appropriate skills, training and experience in these areas. Based upon the remediation actions described in “Part II — Item 9A. Controls and Procedures” of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2008, filed with the SEC on February 27, 2009, management concluded that the material weakness described above was remediated as of December 31, 2008.
 
In addition, we previously reported that certain material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting existed at various times during the period from September 30, 2004 through September 30, 2006. These material weaknesses included excessive turnover and inadequate staffing levels in our accounting, financial reporting and tax departments, weaknesses in the preparation of our income tax provision, and weaknesses in our application of lease-related accounting principles, fresh-start reporting oversight, and account reconciliation procedures.
 
Although we believe we took appropriate actions to remediate the control deficiencies we identified and to strengthen our internal control over financial reporting, we cannot assure you that we will not discover other material weaknesses in the future. The existence of one or more material weaknesses could result in errors in our financial statements, and substantial costs and resources may be required to rectify these or other internal control deficiencies. If we cannot produce reliable financial reports, investors could lose confidence in our reported financial information, the market price of Leap common stock could decline significantly, we may be unable to obtain additional financing to operate and expand our business, and our business and financial condition could be harmed.
 
 
A major element of our business strategy is to offer consumers service plans that allow unlimited wireless service from within a Cricket service area for a flat rate without entering into a fixed-term contract or passing a credit check. Our networks do not currently provide coverage across the U.S. or in all major metropolitan centers, and instead have a network footprint covering population centers of our various markets. This strategy may not prove to be successful in the long term. Some companies that have offered this type of service in the past have been unsuccessful. From time to time, we also evaluate our product and service offerings and the demands of our target customers and may modify, change, adjust or discontinue our product and service offerings or offer new products and services on a permanent, trial or promotional basis. We cannot assure you that these product or service offerings will be successful or prove to be profitable.
 
 
During 2009, we and Denali Operations launched new markets in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Lake Charles covering approximately 24.2 million additional POPs. Our strategic objectives depend on our ability to successfully and cost-effectively operate these recently launched markets as well as our more mature markets, and on customer acceptance of our Cricket product offerings. We generally expect to incur higher operating expenses as our existing business grows and during the first year after we launch service in new markets. If we fail to achieve consistent profitability in these markets, that failure could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
In addition, we have identified new markets covering approximately 16 million additional POPs that we could elect to launch with Cricket service in the future using our wireless licenses, although we have not established a


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timeline for any such build-out or launch. Large-scale construction projects for the build-out of any new markets would require significant capital expenditures and could suffer cost overruns. Significant capital expenditures and increased operating expenses, including in connection with the build-out and launch of new markets, decrease OIBDA and free cash flow for the periods in which we incur such costs. In addition, the build-out of any new markets could be delayed or adversely affected by a variety of factors, uncertainties and contingencies, such as natural disasters, difficulties in obtaining zoning permits or other regulatory approvals, difficulties or delays in clearing U.S. government and/or incumbent commercial licensees from spectrum we intend to utilize, our relationships with our joint venture partners, and the timely performance by third parties of their contractual obligations to construct portions of the networks.
 
Any failure to complete the build-out of any new markets that we elect to launch with Cricket service in the future on budget or on time could delay the implementation of our clustering and expansion strategies.
 
 
We have experienced substantial growth in a relatively short period of time, and we expect to continue to experience growth in the future in our existing and new markets. During 2009, we and Denali Operations launched new markets in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Lake Charles covering approximately 24.2 million additional POPs. The management of our growth requires, among other things, continued development of our financial and management controls and management information systems, stringent control of costs, diligent management of our network infrastructure and its growth, increased spending associated with marketing activities and acquisition of new customers, the ability to attract and retain qualified management personnel and the training of new personnel. Furthermore, the implementation of new or expanded systems or platforms to accommodate our growth, and the transition to such systems or platforms from our existing infrastructure, could result in unpredictable technological or other difficulties. Failure to successfully manage our expected growth and development, to effectively manage launched markets, to enhance our processes and management systems or to timely and adequately resolve any such difficulties could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
In addition, our rapid growth and the recent launch of new markets requires continued management and control of our handset inventories. From time to time, we have experienced inventory shortages, most notably with certain of our strongest-selling handsets, including shortages we experienced during the second quarter of 2009. While we intend to implement a new inventory management system in 2010 and have undertaken other efforts to address inventory forecasting, there can be no assurance that we will not experience inventory shortages in the future. Any failure to effectively manage and control our handset inventories could adversely affect our ability to gain new customers and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
We have now and will continue to have a significant amount of indebtedness. As of December 31, 2009, our total outstanding indebtedness was $2,743.3 million, including $1,100 million of senior secured notes due 2016 and $1,650.0 million in unsecured senior indebtedness, which comprised $1,100.0 million of senior notes due 2014, $250.0 million of convertible senior notes due 2014 and $300.0 million of senior notes due 2015.
 
Our significant indebtedness could have material consequences. For example, it could:
 
  •  make it more difficult for us to service all of our debt obligations;
 
  •  increase our vulnerability to general adverse economic and industry conditions;
 
  •  impair our ability to obtain additional financing in the future for working capital needs, capital expenditures, network build-out and other activities, including acquisitions and general corporate purposes;
 
  •  require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flows from operations to the payment of principal and interest on our indebtedness, thereby reducing the availability of our cash flows to fund working capital needs, capital expenditures, acquisitions and other general corporate purposes;


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  •  limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and the industry in which we operate; and
 
  •  place us at a disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less indebtedness.
 
Any of these risks could impact our ability to fund our operations or limit our ability to expand our business, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, any significant capital expenditures or increased operating expenses associated with the launch of new product offerings or operating markets will decrease OIBDA and free cash flow for the periods in which we incur such costs, increasing the risk that we may not be able to service our indebtedness.
 
 
The terms of the indentures governing Cricket’s secured and unsecured senior notes permit us, subject to specified limitations, to incur additional indebtedness, including secured indebtedness. The indenture governing Leap’s convertible senior notes does not limit our ability to incur debt.
 
We may incur additional indebtedness in the future, as market conditions permit, to enhance our liquidity and to provide us with additional flexibility to pursue business expansion efforts, which could consist of debt financing from the public and/or private capital markets. To provide flexibility with respect to any future capital raising alternatives, we have filed a universal shelf registration statement with the SEC to register various debt, equity and other securities, including debt securities, common stock, preferred stock, depository shares, rights and warrants. The securities under this registration statement may be offered from time to time, separately or together, directly by us or through underwriters, at amounts, prices, interest rates and other terms to be determined at the time of any offering.
 
If new indebtedness is added to our current levels of indebtedness, the related risks that we now face could intensify.
 
 
Our ability to make payments on our indebtedness will depend upon our future operating performance and on our ability to generate cash flow in the future, which are subject to general economic, financial, competitive, legislative, regulatory and other factors that are beyond our control. We cannot assure you that our business will generate sufficient cash flow from operations, or that future financing will be available to us, in an amount sufficient to enable us to repay or service our indebtedness or to fund our other liquidity needs or at all. If the cash flow from our operating activities is insufficient for these purposes, we may take actions, such as delaying or reducing capital expenditures, attempting to restructure or refinance our indebtedness prior to maturity, selling assets or operations or seeking additional equity capital. Any or all of these actions may be insufficient to allow us to service our debt obligations. Further, we may be unable to take any of these actions on commercially reasonable terms, or at all.
 
 
We or our joint ventures may need to refinance all or a portion of our indebtedness before maturity, including indebtedness under the indentures governing our secured and unsecured senior notes and convertible senior notes. Our $1.1 billion of 9.375% unsecured senior notes and our $250 million of unsecured convertible senior notes are due in 2014, our $300 million of 10.0% unsecured senior notes is due in 2015 and our $1.1 billion of 7.75% senior secured notes is due in 2016. Outstanding borrowings under LCW Operation’s term loans must be repaid in quarterly installments (which commenced in June 2008), with an aggregate final payment of $10.1 million due in March 2011. There can be no assurance that we or our joint ventures will be able to obtain sufficient funds to enable us to repay or refinance any of our indebtedness on commercially reasonable terms or at all.


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The indentures governing Cricket’s secured and unsecured senior notes contain covenants that restrict the ability of Leap, Cricket and the subsidiary guarantors to make distributions or other payments to our investors or creditors until we satisfy certain financial tests or other criteria. In addition, these indentures include covenants restricting, among other things, the ability of Leap, Cricket and their restricted subsidiaries to:
 
  •  incur additional indebtedness;
 
  •  create liens or other encumbrances;
 
  •  place limitations on distributions from restricted subsidiaries;
 
  •  pay dividends, make investments, prepay subordinated indebtedness or make other restricted payments;
 
  •  issue or sell capital stock of restricted subsidiaries;
 
  •  issue guarantees;
 
  •  sell or otherwise dispose of all or substantially all of our assets;
 
  •  enter into transactions with affiliates; and
 
  •  make acquisitions or merge or consolidate with another entity.
 
The restrictions in the indentures governing Cricket’s secured and unsecured senior notes could limit our ability to make borrowings, obtain debt financing, repurchase stock, refinance or pay principal or interest on our outstanding indebtedness, complete acquisitions for cash or debt or react to changes in our operating environment. Any credit agreement or indenture that we may enter into in the future may have similar restrictions.
 
Under the indentures governing our secured and unsecured senior notes and convertible senior notes, if certain “change of control” events occur, each holder of notes may require us to repurchase all of such holder’s notes at a purchase price equal to 101% of the principal amount of secured or unsecured senior notes, or 100% of the principal amount of convertible senior notes, plus accrued and unpaid interest.
 
If we default under any of the indentures governing our secured or unsecured senior notes or convertible senior notes because of a covenant breach or otherwise, all outstanding amounts thereunder could become immediately due and payable. Our failure to timely file our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended September 30, 2007 constituted a default under the indenture governing Cricket’s unsecured senior notes due 2014. We cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain a waiver should a default occur in the future. Any acceleration of amounts due would have a material adverse effect on our liquidity and financial condition, and we cannot assure you that we would have sufficient funds to repay all of the outstanding amounts under the indentures governing our secured and unsecured senior notes and convertible senior notes.
 
Our Ability to Use Net Operating Loss Carryforwards to Reduce Future Tax Payments Could be Negatively Impacted if There is an “Ownership Change” as Defined Under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code.
 
We have substantial federal and state net operating losses, or NOLs, for income tax purposes. Under the Internal Revenue Code, subject to certain requirements, we may “carry forward” our federal NOLs for up to a 20-year period to offset future taxable income and reduce our income tax liability. For state income tax purposes, the NOL carryforward period ranges from five to 20 years. At December 31, 2009, we estimated that we had federal NOL carryforwards of approximately $1.5 billion (which begin to expire in 2022), and state NOL carryforwards of approximately $1.5 billion ($21.9 million of which will expire at the end of 2010). While these NOL carryforwards have a potential value of approximately $570 million in tax savings, there is no assurance we will be able to realize such tax savings.
 
If we were to experience an “ownership change,” as defined in Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code and similar state provisions, at a time when our market capitalization was below a certain level, our ability to utilize


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these NOLs to offset future taxable income could be significantly limited. In general terms, a change in ownership can occur whenever there is a shift in the ownership of a company by more than 50 percentage points by one or more “5% stockholders” within a three-year period.
 
The determination of whether an ownership change has occurred is complex and requires significant judgement. If an ownership change for purposes of Section 382 were to occur, it could significantly limit the amount of NOL carryforwards that we could utilize on an annual basis, thus accelerating cash tax payments we would have to make and possibly causing these NOLs to expire before we could fully utilize them. As a result, any restriction on our ability to utilize these NOL carryforwards could have a material impact on our future cash flows.
 
 
As of December 31, 2009, 44.2% of our assets consisted of goodwill, intangible assets and wireless licenses. The value of our assets, and in particular, our intangible assets, will depend on market conditions, the availability of buyers and similar factors. By their nature, our intangible assets may not have a readily ascertainable market value or may not be readily saleable or, if saleable, there may be substantial delays in their liquidation. For example, prior FCC approval is required in order for us to sell, or for any remedies to be exercised by our lenders with respect to, our wireless licenses, and obtaining such approval could result in significant delays and reduce the proceeds obtained from the sale or other disposition of our wireless licenses.
 
 
The wireless communications industry continues to experience significant technological change, as evidenced by the ongoing improvements in the capacity and quality of digital technology, the development and commercial acceptance of wireless data services, shorter development cycles for new products and enhancements and changes in end-user requirements and preferences. Our continued success will depend, in part, on our ability to anticipate or adapt to technological changes and to offer, on a timely basis, services that meet customer demands.
 
In the future, competitors may seek to provide competing wireless telecommunications service through the use of developing 4G technologies, such as WiMax and LTE. We are currently conducting technical trials of LTE technology. We cannot predict, however, which of many possible future technologies, products or services will be important to maintain our competitive position or what expenditures we will be required to make in order to develop and provide these technologies, products and services. The cost of implementing or competing against future technological innovations may be prohibitive to us, and we may lose customers if we fail to keep up with these changes. For example, we have expended a substantial amount of capital to upgrade our network with EvDO technology to offer advanced data services. In addition, we may be required to acquire additional spectrum to deploy these new technologies, which we cannot guarantee would be available to us at a reasonable cost, on a timely basis or at all. There are also risks that current or future versions of the wireless technologies and evolutionary path that we have selected or may select may not be demanded by customers or provide the advantages that we expect. If such upgrades, technologies or services do not become commercially acceptable, our revenues and competitive position could be materially and adversely affected. We cannot assure you that widespread demand for advanced data services will develop at a price level that will allow us to earn a reasonable return on our investment. In addition, there are risks that other wireless carriers on whose networks our customers currently roam may change their technology to other technologies that are incompatible with ours. As a result, the ability of our customers to roam on such carriers’ wireless networks could be adversely affected. If these risks materialize, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected. Further, we may not be able to negotiate cost-effective data roaming agreements on 4G or other data networks, and we are not able to assure you that customer handset and data devices that operate on 4G or other data networks will be available at costs that will make them attractive to customers.
 
In addition, CDMA 1xRTT-based infrastructure networks serve a relatively small minority of wireless users worldwide and could become less popular in the future, which could raise the cost to us of network equipment and


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handsets that use that technology relative to the cost of handsets and network equipment that utilize other technologies, or could result in advanced wireless devices becoming available to us later than devices available for GSM-based carriers.
 
 
We believe our success depends heavily on the contributions of our employees and on attracting, motivating and retaining our officers and other management and technical personnel. We do not, however, generally provide employment contracts to our employees. If we are unable to attract and retain the qualified employees that we need, our business may be harmed.
 
We have experienced higher than normal employee turnover in the past, in part because of our bankruptcy, including turnover of individuals at the most senior management levels. In addition, our business is managed by a small number of key executive officers, including our CEO, S. Douglas Hutcheson. The loss of key individuals in the future may have a material adverse impact on our ability to effectively manage and operate our business. In addition, we may have difficulty attracting and retaining key personnel in future periods, particularly if we were to experience poor operating or financial performance.
 
 
We do not manufacture handsets or other equipment sold by us and generally rely on our suppliers to provide us with safe equipment. Our suppliers are required by applicable law to manufacture their handsets to meet certain governmentally imposed safety criteria. However, even if the handsets we sell meet the regulatory safety criteria, we could be held liable with the equipment manufacturers and suppliers for any harm caused by products we sell if such products are later found to have design or manufacturing defects. We generally have indemnification agreements with the manufacturers who supply us with handsets to protect us from direct losses associated with product liability, but we cannot guarantee that we will be fully protected against all losses associated with a product that is found to be defective.
 
Media reports have suggested that the use of wireless handsets may be linked to various health concerns, including cancer, and may interfere with various electronic medical devices, including hearing aids and pacemakers. Certain class action lawsuits have been filed in the industry claiming damages for alleged health problems arising from the use of wireless handsets. In addition, interest groups have requested that the FCC investigate claims that wireless technologies pose health concerns and cause interference with airbags, anti-lock brakes, hearing aids and other medical devices. The media has also reported incidents of handset battery malfunction, including reports of batteries that have overheated. Malfunctions have caused at least one major handset manufacturer to recall certain batteries used in its handsets, including batteries in a handset sold by Cricket and other wireless providers.
 
Concerns over possible health and safety risks associated with radio frequency emissions and defective products may discourage the use of wireless handsets, which could decrease demand for our services, or result in regulatory restrictions or increased requirements on the location and operation of cell sites, which could increase our operating expenses. Concerns over possible safety risks could decrease the demand for our services. For example, in 2008, a technical defect was discovered in one of our manufacturer’s handsets which appeared to prevent a portion of 911 calls from being heard by the operator. After learning of the defect, we instructed our retail locations to temporarily cease selling the handsets, notified our customers of the matter and directed them to bring their handsets into our retail locations to receive correcting software. If one or more Cricket customers were harmed by a defective product provided to us by a manufacturer and subsequently sold in connection with our services, our ability to add and maintain customers for Cricket service could be materially adversely affected by negative public reactions.
 
There also are some safety risks associated with the use of wireless handsets while operating vehicles or equipment. Concerns over these safety risks and the effect of any legislation that has been and may be adopted in response to these risks could limit our ability to sell our wireless service.


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We depend heavily on suppliers and contractors with specialized expertise in order for us to efficiently operate our business. In the past, our suppliers, contractors and third-party retailers have not always performed at the levels we expect or at the levels required by their contracts. If key suppliers, contractors, service providers or third-party retailers fail to comply with their contracts, fail to meet our performance expectations or refuse or are unable to supply or provide services to us in the future, our business could be severely disrupted. Generally, there are multiple sources for the types of products and services we purchase or use. However, some suppliers and contractors are the exclusive sources of specific products and services that we rely upon for billing, customer care, sales, accounting and other areas in our business. For example, in December 2008 we entered into a long-term, exclusive services agreement with Convergys Corporation for the implementation and ongoing management of a new billing system. We also use a limited number of vendors to provide payment processing services, and in a significant number of our markets, the majority of these services may be provided by a single vendor. In addition, a limited number of vendors currently provide a majority of our voice and data communications transport services. Because of the costs and time lags that can be associated with transitioning from one supplier or service provider to another, our business could be substantially disrupted if we were required to replace the products or services of one or more major suppliers or service providers with products or services from another source, especially if the replacement became necessary on short notice. Any such disruption could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
 
 
Our technical infrastructure (including our network infrastructure and ancillary functions supporting our network such as service activation, billing and customer care) is vulnerable to damage or interruption from technology failures, power surges or outages, natural disasters, fires, human error, terrorism, intentional wrongdoing or similar events. Unanticipated problems at our facilities or with our technical infrastructure, system or equipment failures, hardware or software failures or defects, computer viruses or hacker attacks could affect the quality of our services and cause network service interruptions. Unauthorized access to or use of customer or account information, including credit card or other personal data, could result in harm to our customers and legal actions against us, and could damage our reputation. In addition, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, fires and other unforeseen natural disasters or events could materially disrupt our business operations or the provision of Cricket service in one or more markets. For example, during the third quarter of 2008, our customer acquisitions, cost of service and revenues in certain markets were adversely affected by Hurricane Ike and related weather systems. Any costs we incur to restore, repair or replace our network or technical infrastructure, and any costs associated with detecting, monitoring or reducing the incidence of unauthorized use, may be substantial and increase our cost of providing service. Any failure in or interruption of systems that we or third parties maintain to support ancillary functions, such as billing, point of sale, inventory management, customer care and financial reporting, could materially impact our ability to timely and accurately record, process and report information important to our business. If any of the above events were to occur, we could experience higher churn, reduced revenues and increased costs, any of which could harm our reputation and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
 
We Are in the Process of Upgrading a Number of Significant Business Systems, including our Customer Billing System, and Any Unanticipated Difficulties, Delays or Interruptions with the Transition Could Negatively Impact Our Business.
 
We are in the process of upgrading a number of our significant, internal business systems, including our customer billing system. In December 2008, we entered into a long-term, exclusive services agreement with Convergys for the implementation and ongoing management of the new billing system. To help facilitate the transition of customer billing from our previous vendor, VeriSign, Inc., to Convergys, we acquired VeriSign’s billing system software and simultaneously entered into a transition services agreement to enable Convergys to


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provide us with billing services using the VeriSign software we acquired until the conversion to the new system is complete. In addition to the new billing system, we also intend to implement a new inventory management system and new point-of-sale system.
 
We cannot assure you that we will not experience difficulties, delays or interruptions while we implement and transition to these new systems. At times during the transition of our billing system, we will be limited in our ability to modify our current product and service offerings or to offer new products and services. In addition, the transition of these systems may not progress according to our current schedule and could suffer cost overruns. Significant unexpected difficulties in transitioning our billing, inventory, point-of-sale systems or other systems could materially impact our ability to timely and accurately record, process and report information that is important to our business. If any of the above events were to occur, we could experience higher churn, reduced revenues and increased costs, any of which could harm our reputation and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
 
 
We rely on a combination of patent, service mark, trademark, and trade secret laws and contractual restrictions to establish and protect our proprietary rights, all of which only offer limited protection. We endeavor to enter into agreements with our employees and contractors and agreements with parties with whom we do business in order to limit access to and disclosure of our proprietary information. Despite our efforts, the steps we have taken to protect our intellectual property may not prevent the misappropriation of our proprietary rights. Moreover, others may independently develop processes and technologies that are competitive to ours. The enforcement of our intellectual property rights may depend on any legal actions that we undertake against such infringers being successful, but we cannot be sure that any such actions will be successful, even when our rights have been infringed.
 
We cannot assure you that our pending, or any future, patent applications will be granted, that any existing or future patents will not be challenged, invalidated or circumvented, that any existing or future patents will be enforceable, or that the rights granted under any patent that may issue will provide us with any competitive advantages.
 
In addition, we cannot assure you that any trademark or service mark registrations will be issued with respect to pending or future applications or that any registered trademarks or service marks will be enforceable or provide adequate protection of our brands. Our inability to secure trademark or service mark protection with respect to our brands could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
 
Telecommunications technologies are protected by a wide array of patents and other intellectual property rights. As a result, third parties have asserted and may in the future assert infringement claims against us or our suppliers based on our or their general business operations, the equipment, software or services that we or they use or provide, or the specific operation of our wireless networks. For example, see “Part I— Item 3. Legal Proceedings — Patent Litigation” of this report for a description of certain patent infringement lawsuits that have been brought against us. Due in part to the growth and expansion of our business operations, we have become subject to increased amounts of litigation, including disputes alleging patent infringement. If plaintiffs in any patent litigation matters brought against us were to prevail, we could be required to pay substantial damages or settlement costs, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
We generally have indemnification agreements with the manufacturers, licensors and suppliers who provide us with the equipment, software and technology that we use in our business to help protect us against possible infringement claims. However, depending on the nature and scope of a possible claim, we may not be entitled to seek indemnification from the manufacturer, vendor or supplier under the terms of the agreement. In addition, to the extent that we may be entitled to seek indemnification under the terms of an agreement, we cannot guarantee that the financial condition of an indemnifying party will be sufficient to protect us against all losses associated with infringement claims or that we would be fully indemnified against all possible losses associated with a possible claim. In addition, our suppliers may be subject to infringement claims that could prevent or make it more expensive


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for them to supply us with the products and services we require to run our business, which could have the effect of slowing or limiting our ability to introduce products and services to our customers. Moreover, we may be subject to claims that products, software and services provided by different vendors which we combine to offer our services may infringe the rights of third parties, and we may not have any indemnification from our vendors for these claims. Whether or not an infringement claim against us or a supplier is valid or successful, it could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations by diverting management attention, involving us in costly and time-consuming litigation, requiring us to enter into royalty or licensing agreements (which may not be available on acceptable terms, or at all) or requiring us to redesign our business operations or systems to avoid claims of infringement. In addition, infringement claims against our suppliers could also require us to purchase products and services at higher prices or from different suppliers and could adversely affect our business by delaying our ability to offer certain products and services to our customers.
 
Action by Congress or Government Agencies May Increase Our Costs of Providing Service or Require Us to Change Our Services.
 
The FCC regulates the licensing, construction, modification, operation, ownership, sale and interconnection of wireless communications systems, as do some state and local regulatory agencies. We cannot assure you that the FCC or any state or local agencies having jurisdiction over our business will not adopt regulations or take other enforcement or other actions that would adversely affect our business, impose new costs or require changes in current or planned operations. In addition, state regulatory agencies are increasingly focused on the quality of service and support that wireless carriers provide to their customers and several agencies have proposed or enacted new and potentially burdensome regulations in this area.
 
We also cannot assure you that Congress will not amend the Communications Act, from which the FCC obtains its authority, or enact legislation in a manner that could be adverse to us. For example, the FCC has implemented rule changes and sought comment on further rule changes focused on addressing alleged abuses of its designated entity program, which gives certain categories of small businesses preferential treatment in FCC spectrum auctions based on size. In that proceeding, the FCC has re-affirmed its goals of ensuring that only legitimate small businesses benefit from the program, and that such small businesses are not controlled or manipulated by larger wireless carriers or other investors that do not meet the small business qualification tests. The scope and applicability of these rule changes to these designated entity structures remain in flux, and the changes remain subject to administrative and judicial review. In March 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected one of the pending judicial challenges to the designated entity rules, and another appeal of these rules remains pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that seeks to overturn the results of the AWS and 700 MHz auctions. In addition, third parties and the federal government have challenged certain designated entity structures alleging violations of federal law and seeking monetary damages. We cannot predict the degree to which rule changes, judicial review of the designated entity rules, increased regulatory scrutiny that may follow from these proceedings or third party or government lawsuits will affect our current or future business ventures, licenses acquired in the challenged auctions, or our participation in future FCC spectrum auctions.
 
The DMCA prohibits the circumvention of technological measures employed to protect a copyrighted work, or access control. However, under the DMCA, the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress, or the Copyright Office, has the authority to exempt for three years certain activities from copyright liability that otherwise might be prohibited by that statute. In November 2006, the Copyright Office granted an exemption to the DMCA to allow circumvention of software locks and other firmware that prohibit a wireless handset from connecting to a wireless network when such circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of lawfully connecting the wireless handset to another wireless telephone network. This exemption was due to expire on October 27, 2009 and has been temporarily extended. The DMCA copyright exemption facilitates our current practice of allowing customers to bring in unlocked, or “reflashed,” phones that they already own and may have used with another wireless carrier, and activate them on our network. We and other carriers have asked the Copyright Office to extend the current or substantially similar exemption for another three-year period. However, we are unable to predict the outcome of the Copyright Office’s determination to continue the exemption for this time period or the effect that a Copyright Office decision not to extend the exemption might have on our business. To the extent that the Copyright Office determines


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not to extend this exemption for an extended period of time and this prevents us from activating “reflashed” handsets on our network, this could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
 
Under existing law, no more than 20% of an FCC licensee’s capital stock may be owned, directly or indirectly, or voted by non-U.S. citizens or their representatives, by a foreign government or its representatives or by a foreign corporation. If an FCC licensee is controlled by another entity (as is the case with Leap’s ownership and control of subsidiaries that hold FCC licenses), up to 25% of that entity’s capital stock may be owned or voted by non-U.S. citizens or their representatives, by a foreign government or its representatives or by a foreign corporation. Foreign ownership above the 25% holding company level may be allowed if the FCC finds such higher levels consistent with the public interest. The FCC has ruled that higher levels of foreign ownership, even up to 100%, are presumptively consistent with the public interest with respect to investors from certain nations. If our foreign ownership were to exceed the permitted level, the FCC could revoke our wireless licenses, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Although we could seek a declaratory ruling from the FCC allowing the foreign ownership or could take other actions to reduce our foreign ownership percentage in order to avoid the loss of our licenses, we cannot assure you that we would be able to obtain such a ruling or that any other actions we may take would be successful.
 
We also are subject, or potentially subject, to numerous additional rules and requirements, including universal service obligations; number portability requirements; number pooling rules; rules governing billing, subscriber privacy and customer proprietary network information; roaming obligations; rules that require wireless service providers to configure their networks to facilitate electronic surveillance by law enforcement officials; rate averaging and integration requirements; rules governing spam, telemarketing and truth-in-billing; and rules requiring us to offer equipment and services that are accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, among others. There also pending proceedings exploring the imposition of various types of nondiscrimination, open access and broadband management obligations on our handsets and networks; the prohibition of handset exclusivity; the possible re-imposition of bright-line spectrum aggregation requirements; further regulation of special access used for wireless backhaul services; and the effects of the siting of communications towers on migratory birds, among others. Some of these requirements and pending proceedings (of which the foregoing examples are not an exhaustive list) pose technical and operational challenges to which we, and the industry as a whole, have not yet developed clear solutions. These requirements generally are the subject of pending FCC or judicial proceedings, and we are unable to predict how they may affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
 
Our operations are subject to various other laws and regulations, including those regulations promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, other federal agencies and state and local regulatory agencies and legislative bodies. Adverse decisions or regulations of these regulatory bodies could negatively impact our operations and costs of doing business. Because of our smaller size, legislation or governmental regulations and orders can significantly increase our costs and affect our competitive position compared to other larger telecommunications providers. We are unable to predict the scope, pace or financial impact of regulations and other policy changes that could be adopted by the various governmental entities that oversee portions of our business.
 
 
Cricket Wireless customers generally use their handsets for voice calls for an average of approximately 1,500 minutes per month, and some markets experience substantially higher call volumes. Our Cricket Wireless service plans bundle certain features, long distance and unlimited service in Cricket calling areas for a fixed monthly fee to more effectively compete with other telecommunications providers. We also offer Cricket Broadband, our unlimited mobile broadband service, and Cricket PAYGo, a pay-as-you-go unlimited prepaid wireless service.
 
If customers exceed expected usage for our voice or mobile broadband services, we could face capacity problems and our costs of providing the services could increase. Although we own less spectrum in many of our markets than our competitors, we seek to design our network to accommodate our expected high rates of usage of


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voice and mobile broadband services, and we consistently assess and try to implement technological improvements to increase the efficiency of our wireless spectrum. We currently manage our network and users of our Cricket Broadband service by limiting throughput speeds if their usage adversely impacts our network or service levels or if usage exceeds certain thresholds. However, if future wireless use by Cricket customers exceeds the capacity of our network, service quality may suffer. We may be forced to raise the price of our voice or mobile broadband services to reduce volume, further limit data quantities or speeds, otherwise limit the number of new customers, acquire additional spectrum, or incur substantial capital expenditures to improve network capacity or quality.
 
 
Because we offer unlimited calling services for a fixed rate, our customers’ average minutes of use per month is substantially above U.S. averages. In addition, customer usage of our Cricket Broadband service has been significant. We intend to meet demand for our wireless services by utilizing spectrally efficient technologies. Despite our recent spectrum purchases, there may come a point where we need to acquire additional spectrum in order to maintain an acceptable grade of service or provide new services to meet increasing customer demands. For example, Denali Operations currently operates on 10 MHz of spectrum in its newly launched Chicago market. In the future, we may be required to acquire additional spectrum in this and other of our markets to satisfy increasing demand (especially for data services) or to deploy new technologies, such as WiMax or LTE. In addition, we also may acquire additional spectrum in order to enter new strategic markets. However, we cannot assure you that we will be able to acquire additional spectrum at auction or in the after-market at a reasonable cost or that additional spectrum would be made available by the FCC on a timely basis. In addition, the FCC may impose conditions on the use of new wireless broadband mobile spectrum, such as heightened build-out requirements or open access requirements, that may make it less attractive or economical for us. If such additional spectrum is not available to us when required on reasonable terms or at a reasonable cost, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
 
 
Our existing wireless licenses are subject to renewal upon the expiration of the 10-year or 15-year period for which they are granted, which renewal period commenced for some of our PCS wireless licenses in 2006. The FCC will award renewal expectancy to a wireless licensee that timely files a renewal application, has provided substantial service during its past license term and has substantially complied with applicable FCC rules and policies and the Communications Act. Historically, the FCC has approved our license renewal applications. However, the Communications Act provides that licenses may be revoked for cause and license renewal applications denied if the FCC determines that a renewal would not serve the public interest. In addition, if we fail to timely file to renew any wireless license, or fail to meet any regulatory requirements for renewal, including construction and substantial service requirements, we could be denied a license renewal. Many of our wireless licenses are subject to interim or final construction requirements and there is no guarantee that the FCC will find our construction, or the construction of prior licensees, sufficient to meet the build-out or renewal requirements. FCC rules provide that applications competing with a license renewal application may be considered in comparative hearings, and establish the qualifications for competing applications and the standards to be applied in hearings. We cannot assure you that the FCC will renew our wireless licenses upon their expiration. If any of our wireless licenses were to be revoked or not renewed upon expiration, we would not be permitted to provide services under that license, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
 
 
As of December 31, 2009, the carrying value of our wireless licenses and those of Denali License Sub and LCW License was approximately $1.9 billion. During the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, we recorded impairment charges of $0.6 million, $0.2 million and $1.0 million, respectively.


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The market values of wireless licenses have varied over the last several years, and may vary significantly in the future. Valuation swings could occur for a variety of reasons relating to supply and demand, including:
 
  •  consolidation in the wireless industry allows or requires carriers to sell significant portions of their wireless spectrum holdings;
 
  •  a sudden large sale of spectrum by one or more wireless providers occurs; or
 
  •  market prices decline as a result of the sale prices in FCC auctions.
 
In addition, the price of wireless licenses could decline as a result of the FCC’s pursuit of policies designed to increase the number of wireless licenses available in each of our markets. For example, during recent years, the FCC auctioned additional spectrum in the 1700 MHz to 2100 MHz band in Auction #66 and the 700 MHz band in Auction #73, and has announced that it intends to auction additional spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band. If the market value of wireless licenses were to decline significantly, the value of our wireless licenses could be subject to non-cash impairment charges.
 
We assess potential impairments to our indefinite-lived intangible assets, including wireless licenses, annually and when there is evidence that events or changes in circumstances indicate that an impairment condition may exist. We conduct our annual tests for impairment of our wireless licenses during the third quarter of each year. Estimates of the fair value of our wireless licenses are based primarily on available market prices, including successful bid prices in FCC auctions and selling prices observed in wireless license transactions, pricing trends among historical wireless license transactions, our spectrum holdings within a given market relative to other carriers’ holdings and qualitative demographic and economic information concerning the areas that comprise our markets. A significant impairment loss could have a material adverse effect on our operating income and on the carrying value of our wireless licenses on our balance sheet.
 
Declines in Our Operating or Financial Performance Could Result in an Impairment of Our Indefinite-Lived Assets, Including Goodwill.
 
We assess potential impairments to our long-lived assets, including property and equipment and certain intangible assets, when there is evidence that events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value may not be recoverable. We also assess potential impairments to indefinite-lived intangible assets, including goodwill and wireless licenses, annually and when there is evidence that events or changes in circumstances indicate that an impairment condition may exist. General economic conditions in the U.S. have recently adversely impacted the trading prices of securities of many U.S. companies, including Leap, due to concerns regarding recessionary economic conditions, tighter credit conditions, the subprime lending and financial crisis, volatile energy costs, a substantial slowdown in economic activity, decreased consumer confidence and other factors. If our projected financial or operating performance were to be adversely affected due to significant adverse changes in legal factors or in our business climate, adverse action or assessment by a regulator, unanticipated competition, loss of key personnel or likely sale or disposal of all or a significant portion of a reporting unit, this could constitute a triggering event which would require us to perform an interim goodwill impairment test prior to our next annual impairment test, possibly as soon as the first quarter of 2010. If the first step of the interim impairment test were to indicate that a potential impairment existed, we would be required to perform the second step of the goodwill impairment test, which would require us to determine the fair value of our net assets and could require us to recognize a material non-cash impairment charge that could reduce all or a portion of the carrying value of our goodwill of $430.1 million. Any significant reduction in the carrying value of our goodwill, wireless licenses and/or our long-lived assets could have a material adverse effect on our operating results.
 
 
When our customers use our service to call customers of local exchange carriers, we are required under the current intercarrier compensation scheme to pay the carrier that serves the called party, and any intermediary or transit carrier, for the use of their networks. Similarly, when a customer of another carrier calls one of our customers, that carrier is required to pay us. While in most cases we have been successful in negotiating agreements with other carriers that impose reasonable reciprocal compensation arrangements, some local exchange carriers have claimed


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a right to unilaterally impose what we believe to be unreasonably high charges on us. Some of these carriers have threatened to pursue, have initiated, or may in the future initiate, claims against us to recover these charges, and the outcome of any such claims is uncertain. The FCC is actively considering possible regulatory approaches to address this situation but we cannot assure you that any FCC action will be beneficial to us. The enactment of adverse FCC rules, regulations or decisions or any FCC inaction could result in carriers successfully collecting higher intercarrier fees from us, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
 
More broadly, the FCC is actively considering whether a unified intercarrier compensation regime can or should be established for all traffic exchanged between all carriers, including commercial mobile radio services carriers. There are also pending appeals of various substantive and procedural aspects of the intercarrier compensation regime in the courts, at the FCC and before state regulatory bodies. New or modified intercarrier compensation rules, if adopted, may increase the charges we are required to pay other carriers for terminating calls or transiting calls over their networks, increase the costs of, or make it more difficult to negotiate, new agreements with carriers, decrease the amount of revenue we receive for terminating calls from other carriers on our network, or result in significant costs to us for past and future termination charges. Any of these changes could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
 
We resell third party long distance services in connection with our offering of unlimited international long distance service. The charges for these services may be subject to change by the terminating or interconnecting carrier, or by the regulatory body having jurisdiction in the applicable foreign country. If the charges are modified, the terminating or interconnecting carrier may attempt to assess such charges retroactively on us or our third party international long distance provider. If such charges are substantial, or we cease providing service to the foreign destination, prospective customers may elect not to use our service and current customers may choose to terminate service. Such events could limit our ability to grow our customer base, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.
 
 
Our operating costs could increase substantially as a result of fraud, including customer credit card, subscription or dealer fraud. We have implemented a number of strategies and processes to detect and prevent efforts to defraud us, and we believe that our efforts have substantially reduced the types of fraud we have identified. However, if our strategies are not successful in detecting and controlling fraud, the resulting loss of revenue or increased expenses could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
 
Risks Related to Ownership of Leap Common Stock
 
 
The trading prices of the securities of telecommunications companies have been highly volatile. Accordingly, the trading price of Leap common stock has been, and is likely to continue to be, subject to wide fluctuations. Factors affecting the trading price of Leap common stock may include, among other things:
 
  •  variations in our operating results or those of our competitors;
 
  •  announcements of technological innovations, new services or service enhancements, strategic alliances or significant agreements by us or by our competitors;
 
  •  entry of new competitors into our markets, changes in product and service offerings by us or our competitors, or changes in the prices charged for product and service offerings by us or our competitors;
 
  •  significant developments with respect to intellectual property, securities or related litigation;
 
  •  announcements of and bidding in auctions for new spectrum;
 
  •  recruitment or departure of key personnel;
 
  •  changes in the estimates of our operating results or changes in recommendations by any securities analysts that elect to follow Leap common stock;


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  •  any default under any of the indentures governing our secured or unsecured senior notes or convertible senior notes because of a covenant breach or otherwise; 
 
  •  rumors or speculation in the marketplace regarding acquisitions or consolidation in our industry, including regarding transactions involving Leap; and
 
  •  market conditions in our industry and the economy as a whole.
 
In addition, general economic conditions in the U.S. have recently adversely impacted the trading prices of securities of many U.S. companies, including Leap, due to concerns regarding recessionary economic conditions, tighter credit conditions, the subprime lending and financial crisis, volatile energy costs, a substantial slowdown in economic activity, decreased consumer confidence and other factors. The trading price of Leap’s common stock has also been impacted by increased competition in prepaid offerings by wireless companies. The trading price of Leap common stock may continue to be adversely affected if investors have concerns that our business, financial condition or results of operations will be negatively impacted by these negative general economic conditions or increased competition.
 
 
During the second quarter of 2009 we sold 7,000,000 shares of Leap common stock in an underwritten public offering. We could raise additional capital in the future, as market conditions permit, to enhance our liquidity and to provide us with additional flexibility to pursue business expansion efforts. Any additional capital we could raise could be significant and could consist of debt, convertible debt or equity financing from the public and/or private capital markets. To provide flexibility with respect to any future capital raising alternatives, we have filed a universal shelf registration statement with the SEC to register various debt, equity and other securities, including debt securities, common stock, preferred stock, depository shares, rights and warrants. The securities under this registration statement may be offered from time to time, separately or together, directly by us or through underwriters, at amounts, prices, interest rates and other terms to be determined at the time of any offering. To the extent that we were to elect to raise equity capital, this financing may not be available in sufficient amounts or on terms acceptable to us and could be dilutive to existing stockholders. In addition, these sales could reduce the trading price of Leap common stock and impede our ability to raise future capital.
 
 
As of February 19, 2010, 77,500,550 shares of Leap common stock were issued and outstanding, and 6,748,910 additional shares of Leap common stock were reserved for issuance, including 4,532,089 shares reserved for issuance upon the exercise of outstanding stock options under our 2004 Stock Option, Restricted Stock and Deferred Stock Unit Plan, as amended, 1,334,614 shares of common stock available for future issuance under our 2004 Stock Option, Restricted Stock and Deferred Stock Unit Plan, 222,500 shares reserved for issuance upon the exercise of outstanding stock options under our 2009 Employment Inducement Equity Incentive Plan, 128,100 shares of common stock available for future issuance under our 2009 Employment Inducement Equity Incentive Plan, and 531,607 shares available for future issuance under our Employee Stock Purchase Plan.
 
Leap has also reserved up to 4,761,000 shares of its common stock for issuance upon conversion of its $250 million in aggregate principal amount of convertible senior notes due 2014. Holders may convert their notes into shares of Leap common stock at any time on or prior to the third scheduled trading day prior to the maturity date of the notes, July 15, 2014. If, at the time of conversion, the applicable stock price of Leap common stock is less than or equal to approximately $93.21 per share, the notes will be convertible into 10.7290 shares of Leap common stock per $1,000 principal amount of the notes (referred to as the “base conversion rate”), subject to adjustment upon the occurrence of certain events. If, at the time of conversion, the applicable stock price of Leap common stock exceeds approximately $93.21 per share, the conversion rate will be determined pursuant to a formula based on the base conversion rate and an incremental share factor of 8.3150 shares per $1,000 principal amount of the notes, subject to adjustment. At an applicable stock price of approximately $93.21 per share, the number of shares of common stock issuable upon full conversion of the convertible senior notes would be 2,682,250 shares. Upon the occurrence of a


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“make-whole fundamental change” of Leap under the indenture, under certain circumstances the maximum number of shares of common stock issuable upon full conversion of the convertible senior notes would be 4,761,000 shares.
 
In addition, Leap has reserved five percent of its outstanding shares, which represented 3,875,028 shares of common stock as of February 19, 2010, for potential issuance to CSM on the exercise of CSM’s option to put its entire equity interest in LCW Wireless to Cricket. Under the LCW LLC Agreement, the purchase price for CSM’s equity interest is calculated on a pro rata basis using either the appraised value of LCW Wireless or a multiple of Leap’s enterprise value divided by its adjusted EBITDA and applied to LCW Wireless’ adjusted EBITDA to impute an enterprise value and equity value for LCW Wireless. Cricket may satisfy the put price either in cash or in Leap common stock, or a combination thereof, as determined by Cricket in its discretion. If Cricket elects to satisfy its put obligations to CSM with Leap common stock, the obligations of the parties are conditioned upon the block of Leap common stock issuable to CSM not constituting more than five percent of Leap’s outstanding common stock at the time of issuance. Dilution of the outstanding number of shares of Leap common stock could adversely affect prevailing market prices for Leap common stock. Effective as of August 31, 2009, CSM exercised this put right. Pursuant to the LCW LLC Agreement, the purchase price for the put has been calculated on a pro rata basis using the appraised value of LCW Wireless, subject to certain adjustments. Based on the resulting appraised value of LCW Wireless, the put price, as adjusted, is estimated to be approximately $21 million. We intend to satisfy the put price in cash and completion of this transaction is subject to customary closing conditions.
 
We have agreed to prepare and file a resale shelf registration statement for any shares of Leap common stock issued to CSM in connection with the put, and to use our reasonable efforts to cause such registration statement to be declared effective by the SEC. In addition, we have registered all shares of common stock that we may issue under our stock option, restricted stock and deferred stock unit plan, under our employment inducement equity incentive plan and under our employee stock purchase plan. When we issue shares under these stock plans, they can be freely sold in the public market. If any of Leap’s stockholders causes a large number of securities to be sold in the public market, these sales could reduce the trading price of Leap common stock. These sales also could impede our ability to raise future capital.
 
 
Our directors and entities affiliated with them beneficially owned in the aggregate approximately 20.9% of Leap common stock as of February 19, 2010. Moreover, our eight largest stockholders and entities affiliated with them beneficially owned in the aggregate approximately 73.6% of Leap common stock as of February 19, 2010. These stockholders have the ability to exert substantial influence over all matters requiring approval by our stockholders. These stockholders will be able to influence the election and removal of directors and any merger, consolidation or sale of all or substantially all of Leap’s assets and other matters. This concentration of ownership could have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a change in control or impeding a merger or consolidation, takeover or other business combination.
 
Our resale shelf registration statements register for resale 15,537,869 shares of Leap common stock held by entities affiliated with one of our directors, or approximately 20.0% of Leap’s outstanding common stock as of February 19, 2010. In addition, in connection with our offering of 7,000,000 shares of Leap common stock in the second quarter of 2009, we agreed to register for resale any additional shares of common stock that these entities or their affiliates may acquire in the future. We are unable to predict the potential effect that sales into the market of any material portion of such shares, or any of the other shares held by our other large stockholders and entities affiliated with them, may have on the then-prevailing market price of Leap common stock. If any of Leap’s stockholders cause a large number of securities to be sold in the public market, these sales could reduce the trading price of Leap common stock. These sales could also impede our ability to raise future capital.


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Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and bylaws contain provisions that could depress the trading price of Leap common stock by acting to discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company or changes in our management that our stockholders may deem advantageous. These provisions:
 
  •  require super-majority voting to amend some provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and bylaws;
 
  •  authorize the issuance of “blank check” preferred stock that our board of directors could issue to increase the number of outstanding shares to discourage a takeover attempt;
 
  •  prohibit stockholder action by written consent, and require that all stockholder actions be taken at a meeting of our stockholders;
 
  •  provide that the board of directors is expressly authorized to make, alter or repeal our bylaws; and
 
  •  establish advance notice requirements for nominations for elections to our board or for proposing matters that can be acted upon by stockholders at stockholder meetings.
 
We are also subject to Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, which generally prohibits a Delaware corporation from engaging in any of a broad range of business combinations with any “interested” stockholder for a period of three years following the date on which the stockholder became an “interested” stockholder and which may discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company.
 
In addition, under the indentures governing our secured and unsecured senior notes and convertible senior notes, if certain “change of control” events occur, each holder of notes may require us to repurchase all of such holder’s notes at a purchase price equal to 101% of the principal amount of secured or unsecured senior notes, or 100% of the principal amount of convertible senior notes, plus accrued and unpaid interest. See “Part II — Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Liquidity and Capital Resources” of this report.
 
Item 1B.   Unresolved Staff Comments
 
None.
 
Item 2.   Properties
 
As of December 31, 2009, Cricket leased approximately 8,000 cell sites, 28 switching centers and four warehouse facilities (which range in size from approximately 1,400 square feet to 20,000 square feet). In addition, Cricket has approximately 30 office leases in its individual markets that range from approximately 825 square feet to approximately 25,000 square feet. Cricket also leases approximately 250 retail locations in its markets, including stores ranging in size from approximately 500 square feet to 5,600 square feet, as well as six kiosks and retail spaces within other stores.
 
As of December 31, 2009, Cricket leased space, totaling approximately 201,000 square feet, for our new corporate headquarters in San Diego. We use these offices for engineering and administrative purposes. We transitioned to our new corporate headquarters during the second half of 2009. We are currently seeking to sublease the space that formerly housed our corporate headquarters in San Diego, totaling approximately 130,000 square feet in three office buildings. Cricket also leased space, totaling approximately 94,000 square feet, for our new facility in Denver for our sales and marketing, product development and supply chain functions. We transitioned to this new location during the second half of 2009. We also continued to lease space in Denver, totaling approximately 53,000 square feet, for our information technology function. We do not own any real property.
 
As of December 31, 2009, LCW Operations leased approximately 290 cell sites and one office and switch location. In addition, as of December 31, 2009, LCW Operations leased eight retail locations in its markets,


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consisting of stores ranging in size from approximately 1,100 square feet to 3,400 square feet. LCW Wireless and its subsidiaries do not own any real property.
 
As of December 31, 2009, Denali Operations leased approximately 930 cell sites, two office locations and two switch locations. In addition, as of December 31, 2009, Denali Operations leased approximately 30 retail locations in its markets, consisting of stores ranging in size from approximately 1,600 square feet to 5,800 square feet. Denali and its subsidiaries do not own any real property.
 
As we and Denali Operations continue to develop existing Cricket markets, and if any additional markets are built out, we and Denali Operations may lease additional or substitute office facilities, retail stores, cell sites, switch sites and warehouse facilities.
 
Item 3.   Legal Proceedings
 
As more fully described below, we are involved in a variety of lawsuits, claims, investigations and proceedings concerning intellectual property, securities, commercial and other matters. Due in part to the growth and expansion of our business operations, we have become subject to increased amounts of litigation, including disputes alleging intellectual property infringement.
 
We believe that any damage amounts alleged in the matters discussed below are not necessarily meaningful indicators of our potential liability. We determine whether we should accrue an estimated loss for a contingency in a particular legal proceeding by assessing whether a loss is deemed probable and can be reasonably estimated. We reassess our views on estimated losses on a quarterly basis to reflect the impact of any developments in the matters in which we are involved.
 
Legal proceedings are inherently unpredictable, and the matters in which we are involved often present complex legal and factual issues. We vigorously pursue defenses in legal proceedings and engage in discussions where possible to resolve these matters on terms favorable to us. It is possible, however, that our business, financial condition and results of operations in future periods could be materially adversely affected by increased litigation expense, significant settlement costs and/or unfavorable damage awards.
 
Patent Litigation
 
 
On December 10, 2007, we were sued by Freedom Wireless, Inc., or Freedom Wireless, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, for alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 5,722,067 entitled “Security Cellular Telecommunications System,” U.S. Patent No. 6,157,823 entitled “Security Cellular Telecommunications System,” and U.S. Patent No. 6,236,851 entitled “Prepaid Security Cellular Telecommunications System.” Freedom Wireless alleged that its patents claim a novel cellular system that enables subscribers of prepaid services to both place and receive cellular calls without dialing access codes or using modified telephones. The complaint sought unspecified monetary damages, increased damages under 35 U.S.C. § 284 together with interest, costs and attorneys’ fees, and an injunction. On September 3, 2008, Freedom Wireless amended its infringement contentions to assert that our Cricket unlimited voice service, in addition to our Jump® Mobile and Cricket by Weektm services, infringes claims under the patents at issue. On January 19, 2009, we and Freedom Wireless entered into an agreement to settle this lawsuit and agreed to enter into a license agreement which will provide Freedom Wireless with royalties on certain of our products and services. Pursuant to the terms of the settlement, an arbitration hearing was held on December 15, 2009 to finalize the terms of the settlement and license agreements. The decision of the arbitrator is pending.
 
DNT
 
On May 1, 2009, we were sued by DNT LLC, or DNT, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, for alleged infringement of U.S. Reissued Patent No. RE37,660 entitled “Automatic Dialing System.” DNT alleges that we use, encourage the use of, sell, offer for sale and/or import voice and data service and wireless modem cards for computers designed to be used in conjunction with cellular networks and that such acts constitute both direct and indirect infringement of DNT’s patent. DNT alleges that our


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infringement is willful, and the complaint seeks an injunction against further infringement, unspecified damages (including enhanced damages) and attorneys’ fees. On July 23, 2009, we filed an answer to the complaint as well as counterclaims. On December 14, 2009, DNT’s patent was determined to be invalid in a case it brought against another wireless provider. That other case was settled and dismissed on February 11, 2010, but the stay in our matter with DNT has not yet been formally lifted.
 
 
On April 21, 2009, we and certain other wireless carriers (including Hargray Wireless, a company which Cricket acquired in April 2008 and which was merged with and into Cricket in December 2008) were sued by Digital Technology Licensing LLC, or DTL, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, for alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 5,051,799 entitled “Digital Output Transducer.” DTL alleges that we and Hargray Wireless sell and/or offer to sell Bluetooth® devices or digital cellular telephones, including Kyocera and Sanyo telephones, and that such acts constitute direct and/or indirect infringement of DTL’s patent. DTL further alleges that we and Hargray Wireless directly and/or indirectly infringe its patent by providing cellular telephone service and by using and inducing others to use a patented digital cellular telephone system by using cellular telephones, Bluetooth devices, and cellular telephone infrastructure made by companies such as Kyocera and Sanyo. DTL alleges that the asserted infringement is willful, and the complaint seeks a permanent injunction against further infringement, unspecified damages (including enhanced damages), attorneys’ fees, and expenses. On January 5, 2010, this matter was stayed, pending final resolution of another case that DTL brought against another wireless provider in which it alleges infringement of the patent that is at issue in our matter. This other case is not yet set for trial.
 
On The Go
 
On February 22, 2010, a matter brought against us by On The Go, LLC, or OTG, was dismissed with prejudice. We and certain other wireless carriers were sued by OTG in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, on July 9, 2009, for alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,430,554 entitled “Method and System For Telephonically Selecting, Addressing, and Distributing Messages.” OTG’s complaint alleged that we directly and indirectly infringe OTG’s patent by making, offering for sale, selling, providing, maintaining, and supporting our PAYGo prepaid mobile telephone service and system. The complaint sought injunctive relief and unspecified damages, including interest and costs.
 
DownUnder Wireless
 
On November 20, 2009, we and a number of other parties were sued by DownUnder Wireless, LLC, or DownUnder, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, for alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,741,215 entitled “Inverted Safety Antenna for Personal Communications Devices.” DownUnder alleges that we use, sell, and offer to sell wireless communication devices, including PCD, Cal-Comp, and Motorola devices, comprising a housing, a microphone, a speaker earpiece, a user interface mounted in an upright orientation on the communication device, and a transmitting antenna, where the transmitting antenna is mounted in a lower portion of the housing, and further the housing defines an obtuse angle between the top of the upper housing portion and the bottom of the lower housing portion of the devices, and that such acts constitute direct and indirect infringement of DownUnder’s patent. DownUnder alleges that our infringement is willful, and the complaint seeks a permanent injunction against further infringement, unspecified damages (including enhanced damages), and attorneys’ fees. We filed an answer to the complaint on February 19, 2010.
 
 
On October 29, 2009, we settled two matters referred to as the AWG and Whittington Lawsuits, and the matters have been dismissed.
 
The Whittington Lawsuit refers to a lawsuit brought on December 31, 2002 by several members of American Wireless Group, LLC, or AWG, against various officers and directors of Leap in the Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi. Leap purchased certain FCC wireless licenses from AWG and paid


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for those licenses with shares of Leap stock. The complaint alleged that Leap failed to disclose to AWG material facts regarding a dispute between Leap and a third party relating to that party’s claim that it was entitled to an increase in the purchase price for certain wireless licenses it sold to Leap. In their complaint, plaintiffs sought rescission and/or damages according to proof at trial of not less than the aggregate amount paid for the Leap stock (alleged in the complaint to have a value of approximately $57.8 million in June 2001 at the closing of the license sale transaction), plus interest, punitive or exemplary damages in the amount of not less than three times compensatory damages, plus costs and expenses. Plaintiffs contended that the named defendants were the controlling group that was responsible for Leap’s alleged failure to disclose the material facts regarding the third party dispute and the risk that the shares held by the plaintiffs might be diluted if the third party was successful with respect to its claim.
 
The AWG Lawsuit refers to a related action to the action described above brought in June 2003 by AWG in the Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi against the same individual defendants named in the Whittington Lawsuit. The complaint generally set forth the same claims made by the plaintiffs in the Whittington Lawsuit. In its complaint, plaintiff sought rescission and/or damages according to proof at trial of not less than the aggregate amount paid for the Leap stock (alleged in the complaint to have a value of approximately $57.8 million in June 2001 at the closing of the license sale transaction), plus interest, punitive or exemplary damages in the amount of not less than three times compensatory damages, and costs and expenses.
 
 
Leap is a nominal defendant in two shareholder derivative suits and a consolidated securities class action lawsuit. As indicated further below, we have entered into discussions to settle the derivative suits and have reached an agreement in principle to settle the class action.
 
The two shareholder derivative suits purport to assert claims on behalf of Leap against certain of its current and former directors and officers. One of the shareholder derivative lawsuits was filed in the California Superior Court for the County of San Diego on November 13, 2007 and the other shareholder derivative lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California on February 7, 2008. The state action was stayed on August 22, 2008 pending resolution of the federal action. The plaintiff in the federal action filed an amended complaint on September 12, 2008 asserting, among other things, claims for alleged breach of fiduciary duty, gross mismanagement, waste of corporate assets, unjust enrichment, and proxy violations based on the November 9, 2007 announcement that we were restating certain of our financial statements, claims alleging breach of fiduciary duty based on the September 2007 unsolicited merger proposal from MetroPCS and claims alleging illegal insider trading by certain of the individual defendants. The derivative complaints seek a judicial determination that the claims may be asserted derivatively on behalf of Leap, and unspecified damages, equitable and/or injunctive relief, imposition of a constructive trust, disgorgement, and attorney’s fees and costs. Leap and the individual defendants have filed motions to dismiss the amended federal complaint. On September 29, 2009, the district court granted Leap’s motion to dismiss the derivative complaint for failure to plead that a presuit demand on Leap’s board was excused. The plaintiff has until March 12, 2010 to file an amended complaint. We have entered into discussions to settle the derivative suits, although no assurances can be given that we will be successful in doing so.
 
Leap and certain current and former officers and directors, and Leap’s independent registered public accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, also have been named as defendants in a consolidated securities class action lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California which consolidated several securities class action lawsuits initially filed between September 2007 and January 2008. Plaintiffs allege that the defendants violated Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5, and Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act. The consolidated complaint alleges that the defendants made false and misleading statements about Leap’s internal controls, business and financial results, and customer count metrics. The claims are based primarily on the November 9, 2007 announcement that we were restating certain of our financial statements and statements made in our August 7, 2007 second quarter 2007 earnings release. The lawsuit seeks, among other relief, a determination that the alleged claims may be asserted on a class-wide basis and unspecified damages and attorney’s fees and costs. On January 9, 2009, the federal court granted defendants’ motions to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. On February 23, 2009, defendants were served with an


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amended complaint which does not name PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP or any of Leap’s outside directors. Leap and the remaining individual defendants have moved to dismiss the amended complaint.
 
The parties have reached an agreement in principle to settle the class action. The settlement is contingent on court approval and provides for, among other things, dismissal of the lawsuits with prejudice, the granting of broad releases of the defendants, and a payment to the plaintiffs of $13.75 million, which would include payment of any attorneys’ fees for plaintiffs’ counsel. We anticipate that the entire settlement amount will be paid by our insurers. On February 18, 2010, the lead plaintiff filed a motion seeking preliminary approval by the court of the settlement and approval of a form of notice to potential settlement class members.
 
 
On January 7, 2009, we received a letter from the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice, or the DOJ. In its letter, the DOJ alleges that between approximately 2002 and 2006, we failed to comply with certain federal postal regulations that required us to update customer mailing addresses in exchange for receiving certain bulk mailing rate discounts. As a result, the DOJ has asserted that we violated the False Claims Act, or FCA, and are therefore liable for damages. On November 18, 2009, the DOJ presented us with a calculation that single damages in this matter were $2.7 million for a period from June 2003 through June 2006, which amount may be trebled under the FCA. The FCA also provides for statutory penalties, which the DOJ has previously asserted could total up to $11,000 per mailing. The DOJ had also previously asserted as an alternative theory of liability that we are liable on a basis of unjust enrichment for estimated single damages.
 
 
In addition to the matters described above, we are often involved in certain other claims, including disputes alleging intellectual property infringement, which arise in the ordinary course of business and seek monetary damages and other relief. Based upon information currently available to us, none of these other claims is expected to have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
 
Item 4.   Submission of Matters to a Vote of Security Holders
 
No matters were submitted to a vote of Leap’s stockholders, through the solicitation of proxies or otherwise, during the quarter ended December 31, 2009.


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Item 5.   Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
 
 
Our common stock is listed for trading on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “LEAP.”
 
The following table sets forth the high and low closing prices per share of our common stock on the NASDAQ Global Select Market for the quarterly periods indicated, which correspond to our quarterly fiscal periods for financial reporting purposes.
 
                 
    High($)     Low($)  
 
Calendar Year — 2008
               
First Quarter
    49.76       36.24  
Second Quarter
    61.09       43.17  
Third Quarter
    48.85       35.73  
Fourth Quarter
    39.16       15.46  
Calendar Year — 2009
               
First Quarter
    38.49       23.27  
Second Quarter
    41.05       30.87  
Third Quarter
    30.55       15.85  
Fourth Quarter
    18.13       12.25  
 
On February 19, 2010, the last reported sale price of Leap common stock on the NASDAQ Global Select Market was $15.30 per share. As of February 19, 2010, there were 77,500,550 shares of common stock outstanding held by approximately 350 holders of record.
 
 
Leap has not paid or declared any cash dividends on its common stock and we do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future. As more fully described in “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” the terms of the indentures governing our secured and unsecured senior notes restrict our ability to declare or pay dividends. We intend to retain future earnings, if any, to fund our growth. Any future payment of dividends to our stockholders will depend on decisions that will be made by our board of directors and will depend on then existing conditions, including our financial condition, contractual restrictions, capital requirements and business prospects.


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Item 6.   Selected Financial Data (in thousands, except per share data)
 
The following selected financial data were derived from our audited consolidated financial statements. These tables should be read in conjunction with “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” included elsewhere in this report.
 
                                         
    Year Ended December 31,  
    2009     2008     2007     2006     2005  
 
Statement of Operations Data:
                                       
Revenues
  $ 2,383,162     $ 1,958,862     $ 1,630,803     $ 1,167,187     $ 957,771  
                                         
Operating income
    31,124       46,700       60,262       23,725       71,002  
                                         
Income (loss) before income taxes and cumulative effect of change in accounting principle
    (197,354 )     (104,411 )     (40,521 )     (17,635 )     52,300  
Income tax expense
    (40,609 )     (38,970 )     (35,924 )     (8,469 )     (21,615 )
                                         
Income (loss) before cumulative effect of change in accounting principle
    (237,963 )     (143,381 )     (76,445 )     (26,104 )     30,685  
Cumulative effect of change in accounting principle
                      623        
                                         
Net income (loss)
    (237,963 )     (143,381 )     (76,445 )     (25,481 )     30,685  
Accretion of redeemable noncontrolling interests, net of tax
    (1,529 )     (6,820 )     (3,854 )     (1,321 )      
                                         
Net income (loss) attributable to common stockholders
  $ (239,492 )   $ (150,201 )   $ (80,299 )   $ (26,802 )   $ 30,685  
                                         
Basic earnings (loss) per share attributable to common stockholders:
                                       
Income (loss) before cumulative effect of change in accounting principle
  $ (3.30 )   $ (2.21 )   $ (1.20 )   $ (0.44 )   $ 0.51  
Cumulative effect of change in accounting principle
                      0.01        
                                         
Basic earnings (loss) per share(1)
  $ (3.30 )   $ (2.21 )   $ (1.20 )   $ (0.43 )   $ 0.51  
                                         
Diluted earnings (loss) per share attributable to common stockholders:
                                       
Income (loss) before cumulative effect of change in accounting principle
  $ (3.30 )   $ (2.21 )   $ (1.20 )   $ (0.44 )   $ 0.50  
Cumulative effect of change in accounting principle
                      0.01        
                                         
Diluted earnings (loss) per share(1)
  $ (3.30 )   $ (2.21 )   $ (1.20 )   $ (0.43 )   $ 0.50  
                                         
Shares used in per share calculations:(1)
                                       
Basic
    72,515       68,021       67,100       61,645       60,135  
                                         
Diluted
    72,515       68,021       67,100       61,645       61,003  
                                         
 


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    As of December 31,  
    2009     2008     2007     2006     2005  
 
Balance Sheet Data:
                                       
Cash and cash equivalents
  $ 174,999     $ 357,708     $ 433,337     $ 372,812     $ 293,073  
Short-term investments
    389,154       238,143       179,233       66,400       90,981  
Working capital
    272,974       278,576       380,384       185,191       245,366  
Restricted cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments
    3,866       4,780       15,550       13,581       13,759  
Total assets
    5,371,721       5,052,857       4,432,998       4,084,947       2,499,946  
Capital leases
    12,285       13,993       53,283       16,459       17,243  
Long-term debt
    2,735,318       2,566,025       2,033,902       1,676,500       588,333  
Total stockholders’ equity
    1,690,530       1,612,676       1,717,505       1,769,348       1,517,601  
 
 
(1) Refer to Notes 2 and 5 to the consolidated financial statements included in “Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of this report for an explanation of the calculation of basic and diluted earnings (loss) per share.

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Item 7.   Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
 
The following information should be read in conjunction with the audited consolidated financial statements and notes thereto included in “Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of this report.
 
 
 
We are a wireless communications carrier that offers digital wireless services in the U.S. under the “Cricket” brand. Our Cricket service offerings provide customers with unlimited wireless services for a flat rate without requiring a fixed-term contract or a credit check.
 
Cricket service is offered by Cricket, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leap, and is also offered in Oregon by LCW Operations and in the upper Midwest by Denali Operations. Cricket owns an indirect 70.7% non-controlling interest in LCW Operations through a 70.7% non-controlling interest in LCW Wireless, and owns an indirect non-controlling interest in Denali Operations through an 82.5% non-controlling interest in Denali. LCW Wireless and Denali are designated entities under FCC regulations. We consolidate our interests in LCW Wireless and Denali in accordance with the authoritative guidance for the consolidation of variable interest entities because these entities are variable interest entities and we will absorb a majority of their expected losses.
 
As of December 31, 2009, Cricket service was offered in 35 states and the District of Columbia and had approximately 5.0 million customers. As of December 31, 2009, we, LCW License, and Denali License Sub owned wireless licenses covering an aggregate of approximately 186.1 million POPs (adjusted to eliminate duplication from overlapping licenses). The combined network footprint in our operating markets covered approximately 94.2 million POPs as of December 31, 2009, which includes incremental POPs attributed to ongoing footprint expansion in existing markets. The licenses we and Denali own provide 20 MHz of coverage and the opportunity to offer enhanced data services in almost all markets in which we currently operate, assuming Denali License Sub were to make available to us certain of its spectrum.
 
Our Cricket service offerings are based on providing unlimited wireless services to customers, and the value of unlimited wireless services is the foundation of our business. Our primary Cricket service is Cricket Wireless, which offers customers unlimited wireless voice and data services for a flat monthly rate. Our most popular Cricket Wireless rate plans include unlimited local and U.S. long distance service from any Cricket service area and unlimited text messaging. In addition to our Cricket Wireless voice and data services, we offer Cricket Broadband, our unlimited mobile broadband service, which allows customers to access the internet through their computers for one low, flat rate with no long-term commitments or credit checks. We also offer Cricket PAYGo, a pay-as-you-go unlimited prepaid wireless service designed for customers who prefer the flexibility and control offered by traditional prepaid services but who are seeking greater value for their dollar.
 
We believe that our business is scalable because we offer an attractive value proposition to our customers while utilizing a cost structure that is significantly lower than most of our competitors. As a result, we have continued to pursue activities to expand our business. These expansion activities have included the broadening of our product portfolio, which has included the introduction of our Cricket Broadband and Cricket PAYGo products over the past few years. We have also enhanced our network coverage and capacity. In 2009, we and Denali Operations launched new markets in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Lake Charles covering approximately 24.2 million additional POPs. We have also continued to enhance our network coverage and capacity in many of our existing markets. Future business expansion activities could include the acquisition of additional spectrum through private transactions or FCC auctions, the build out and launch of Cricket services in additional markets, entering into partnerships with others, the acquisition of other wireless communications companies or complementary businesses or the deployment of next-generation network technology over the longer term. We also expect to continue to look for opportunities to optimize the value of our spectrum portfolio. Because some of the licenses that we and Denali License Sub hold include large regional areas covering both rural and metropolitan communities, we and Denali may seek to partner with others, sell some of this spectrum or pursue alternative products or services to utilize or benefit from the spectrum not otherwise used for Cricket service. We intend to be disciplined as we pursue any expansion efforts and to remain focused on our position as a low-cost leader in wireless telecommunications.


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Our customer activity is influenced by seasonal effects related to traditional retail selling periods and other factors that arise in connection with our target customer base. Based on historical results, we generally expect new sales activity to be highest in the first and fourth quarters for markets in operation for one year or longer, and customer turnover, or churn, to be highest in the third quarter and lowest in the first quarter. In newly launched markets, we expect to initially experience a greater degree of customer turnover due to the number of customers new to Cricket service, but generally expect that churn will gradually improve as the average tenure of customers in such markets increases. Sales activity and churn, however, can be strongly affected by other factors, including promotional activity, economic conditions and competitive actions, any of which may have the ability to reduce or outweigh certain seasonal effects or the relative amount of time a market has been in operation. From time to time, we offer programs to help promote customer activity for our wireless services. For example, since the second quarter of 2008 we have increased our use of a program which allows existing customers to activate an additional line of voice service on a previously activated Cricket handset not currently in service. Customers accepting this offer receive a free month of service on the additional line of service after paying an activation fee. We believe that this kind of program and other promotions provide important long-term benefits to us by extending the period of time over which customers use our wireless services.
 
The telecommunications industry is very competitive. In general, we compete with national facilities-based wireless providers and their prepaid affiliates or brands, local and regional carriers, non-facilities-based MVNOs, voice-over-internet-protocol service providers, traditional landline service providers and cable companies. The competitive pressures of the wireless telecommunications industry have continued to increase and have caused a number of our competitors to offer competitively-priced unlimited prepaid and postpaid service offerings. These service offerings have presented additional strong competition in markets in which our offerings overlap. Our ability to remain competitive will depend, in part, on our ability to anticipate and respond to various competitive factors and to keep our costs low. In the third quarter of 2009, we revised a number of our Cricket Wireless service plans to provide additional features previously only available in our higher-priced plans. These changes, which were made in response to the competitive and economic environment, have resulted in lower average monthly revenue per customer. In addition, a number of our competitors have introduced “all-inclusive” rate plans which are priced to include applicable regulatory fees and taxes. In the event that we were to transition the pricing of our rate plans to generally include regulatory fees and taxes, this change could further impact our revenues. In addition, rising unemployment levels have recently impacted our customer base, including, in particular, the lower-income segment of our customer base, decreasing their discretionary income.
 
Our principal sources of liquidity are our existing unrestricted cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments and cash generated from operations. From time to time, we may also generate additional liquidity through capital markets transactions. See “Liquidity and Capital Resources” below.
 
Among the most significant factors affecting our financial condition and performance in prior periods have been our market expansions and growth in customers, the impacts of which have been reflected in our revenues and operating expenses. Since 2005, we and our consolidated joint ventures have expanded existing market footprints and launched additional markets, increasing the number of potential customers covered by our networks from approximately 27.7 million covered POPs as of December 31, 2005 to approximately 94.2 million covered POPs as of December 31, 2009. This network expansion, together with organic customer growth in our existing markets, has resulted in substantial additions of new customers, as our total end-of-period customers increased from 1.67 million customers as of December 31, 2005 to 4.95 million customers as of December 31, 2009. As our business has expanded, our total revenues have continued to increase, rising from $957.8 million for fiscal 2005 to $2.38 billion for fiscal 2009, and our operating expenses have similarly increased from $901.4 million for fiscal 2005 to $2.35 billion for fiscal 2009. During this period, we also incurred substantial additional indebtedness to finance the costs of our business expansion and acquisitions of additional wireless licenses. As a result, our interest expense has increased from $30.1 million for fiscal 2005 to $210.4 million for fiscal 2009. Primarily as a result of the factors described above, our net income of $30.7 million for fiscal 2005 decreased to a net loss of $25.5 million for fiscal 2006, further decreasing to a net loss of $238.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2009.
 
The evolving competitive landscape has negatively impacted our financial and operating results, and we expect that it may result in more competitive pricing, slower growth, higher costs and increased customer turnover, as well as the possibility of requiring us to further modify our service plans, increase our handset subsidies or


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increase our dealer compensation in response to competition. Any of these results or actions could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results. We believe that our cost structure provides us with a significant advantage in responding to changing competitive and economic conditions and enables us to revise our product and service offerings to attract and retain customers. Evolving competition or continuing unfavorable unemployment levels, however, could continue to adversely impact average monthly revenue per customer, increase churn and decrease OIBDA and free cash flow.
 
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
 
Our discussion and analysis of our results of operations and liquidity and capital resources are based on our consolidated financial statements which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America, or GAAP. These principles require us to make estimates and judgments that affect our reported amounts of assets and liabilities, our disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities and our reported amounts of revenues and expenses. On an ongoing basis, we evaluate our estimates and judgments, including those related to revenue recognition and the valuation of deferred tax assets, long-lived assets and indefinite-lived intangible assets. We base our estimates on historical and anticipated results and trends and on various other assumptions that we believe are reasonable under the circumstances, including assumptions as to future events. These estimates form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. By their nature, estimates are subject to an inherent degree of uncertainty. Actual results may differ from our estimates.
 
We believe that the following critical accounting policies and estimates involve a higher degree of judgment or complexity than others used in the preparation of our consolidated financial statements.
 
 
The consolidated financial statements include the operating results and financial position of Leap and its wholly owned subsidiaries as well as the operating results and financial position of LCW Wireless and Denali and their wholly owned subsidiaries. We consolidate our non-controlling interests in LCW Wireless and Denali in accordance with the authoritative guidance for the consolidation of variable interest entities because these entities are variable interest entities and we will absorb a majority of their expected losses. All intercompany accounts and transactions have been eliminated in the consolidated financial statements.
 
 
Cricket’s business revenues principally arise from the sale of wireless services, handsets and accessories. Wireless services are generally provided on a month-to-month basis. In general, our customers are required to pay for their service in advance, while customers who first activated their service prior to May 2006 pay in arrears. Because we do not require customers to sign fixed-term contracts or pass a credit check, our services are available to a broader customer base than many other wireless providers and, as a result, some of our customers may be more likely to have service terminated due to an inability to pay. Consequently, we have concluded that collectibility of our revenues is not reasonably assured until payment has been received. Accordingly, service revenues are recognized only after services have been rendered and payment has been received.
 
When we activate service for a new customer, we frequently sell that customer a handset and the first month of service in a bundled transaction. Under the authoritative guidance for revenue arrangements with multiple deliverables, the sale of a handset along with a month of wireless service constitutes a multiple element arrangement. Under the guidance, once a company has determined the fair value of the elements in the sales transaction, the total consideration received from the customer must be allocated among those elements on a relative fair value basis. Applying the guidance to these transactions results in us recognizing the total consideration received, less one month of wireless service revenue (at the customer’s stated rate plan), as equipment revenue.
 
Equipment revenues and related costs from the sale of handsets are recognized when service is activated by customers. Revenues and related costs from the sale of accessories are recognized at the point of sale. The costs of handsets and accessories sold are recorded in cost of equipment. In addition to handsets that we sell directly to our customers at Cricket-owned stores, we also sell handsets to third-party dealers, including mass-merchant retailers.


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These dealers then sell the handsets to the ultimate Cricket customer, and that customer also receives a free period of service in a bundled transaction (similar to the sale made at a Cricket-owned store). Sales of handsets to third-party dealers are recognized as equipment revenues only when service is activated by customers, since the level of price reductions ultimately available to such dealers is not reliably estimable until the handsets are sold by such dealers to customers. Thus, handsets sold to third-party dealers are recorded as deferred equipment revenue and the related costs of the handsets are recorded as deferred charges upon shipment by us. The deferred charges are recognized as equipment costs when the related equipment revenue is recognized, which occurs when service is activated by the customer.
 
Through a third-party provider, our customers may elect to participate in an extended handset warranty/insurance program. We recognize revenue on replacement handsets sold to our customers under the program when the customer purchases a replacement handset.
 
Sales incentives offered without charge to customers and volume-based incentives paid to our third-party dealers are recognized as a reduction of revenue and as a liability when the related service or equipment revenue is recognized. Customers have limited rights to return handsets and accessories based on time and/or usage, and customer returns of handsets and accessories have historically been insignificant.
 
Amounts billed by us in advance of customers’ wireless service periods are not reflected in accounts receivable or deferred revenue since collectibility of such amounts is not reasonably assured. Deferred revenue consists primarily of cash received from customers in advance of their service period and deferred equipment revenue related to handsets sold to third-party dealers.
 
Universal Service Fund, E-911 and other fees are assessed by various governmental authorities in connection with the services that we provide to our customers. We report these fees, as well as sales, use and excise taxes that are assessed and collected, net of amounts remitted, in the consolidated statements of operations.
 
 
We have adopted the authoritative guidance for fair value measurements, which defines fair value for accounting purposes, establishes a framework for measuring fair value and expands disclosure requirements regarding fair value measurements. The guidance defines fair value as an exit price, which is the price that would be received upon sale of an asset or paid upon transfer of a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date. The degree of judgment utilized in measuring the fair value of assets and liabilities generally correlates to the level of pricing observability. Assets and liabilities with readily available, actively quoted prices or for which fair value can be measured from actively quoted prices in active markets generally have more pricing observability and require less judgment in measuring fair value. Conversely, assets and liabilities that are rarely traded or not quoted have less pricing observability and are generally measured at fair value using valuation models that require more judgment. These valuation techniques involve some level of management estimation and judgment, the degree of which is dependent on the price transparency of the asset, liability or market and the nature of the asset or liability. We have categorized our assets and liabilities measured at fair value into a three-level hierarchy in accordance with the guidance for fair value measurements.
 
Our adoption of the guidance for fair value measurements for our financial assets and liabilities, effective January 1, 2008, did not have a material impact on our consolidated financial statements. Effective January 1, 2009, we adopted the guidance for fair value measurements for our non-financial assets and liabilities that are remeasured at fair value on a non-recurring basis. The adoption of the guidance for our non-financial assets and liabilities that are remeasured at fair value on a non-recurring basis did not have a material impact on our financial condition and results of operations.


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Depreciation of property and equipment is applied using the straight-line method over the estimated useful lives of our assets once the assets are placed in service. The following table summarizes the depreciable lives (in years):
 
         
    Depreciable
 
    Life  
 
Network equipment:
       
Switches
    10  
Switch power equipment
    15  
Cell site equipment and site improvements
    7  
Towers
    15  
Antennae
    5  
Computer hardware and software
    3-5  
Furniture, fixtures, retail and office equipment
    3-7  
 
Wireless Licenses
 
We, LCW Wireless and Denali operate broadband PCS and AWS networks under PCS and AWS wireless licenses granted by the FCC that are specific to a particular geographic area on spectrum that has been allocated by the FCC for such services. Wireless licenses are initially recorded at cost and are not amortized. Although FCC licenses are issued with a stated term (ten years in the case of PCS licenses and fifteen years in the case of AWS licenses), wireless licenses are considered to be indefinite-lived intangible assets because we expect our subsidiaries and consolidated joint ventures to provide wireless service using the relevant licenses for the foreseeable future, PCS and AWS licenses are routinely renewed for either no or a nominal fee, and management has determined that no legal, regulatory, contractual, competitive, economic or other factors currently exist that limit the useful life of our or our consolidated joint ventures’ PCS and AWS licenses. On a quarterly basis, we evaluate the remaining useful life of our indefinite-lived wireless licenses to determine whether events and circumstances, such as legal, regulatory, contractual, competitive, economic or other factors, continue to support an indefinite useful life. If a wireless license is subsequently determined to have a finite useful life, we test the wireless license for impairment in accordance with the authoritative guidance for the impairment or disposal of long-lived assets, and the wireless license would then be amortized prospectively over its estimated remaining useful life. In addition, and as more fully described below, on a quarterly basis, we evaluate the triggering event criteria outlined in the guidance for the impairment or disposal of long-lived assets to determine whether events or changes in circumstances indicate that an impairment condition may exist. In addition to these quarterly evaluations, we also test our wireless licenses for impairment in accordance with the authoritative guidance for goodwill and other intangible assets on an annual basis. Wireless licenses to be disposed of by sale are carried at the lower of their carrying value or fair value less costs to sell.
 
Portions of the AWS spectrum that we and Denali License Sub were awarded in Auction #66 were subject to use by U.S. government and/or incumbent commercial licensees. FCC rules require winning bidders to avoid interfering with these existing users or to clear the incumbent users from the spectrum through specified relocation procedures. In connection with our launch of new markets over the past two years, we and Denali worked with several incumbent government and commercial licensees to clear AWS spectrum. Our and Denali’s spectrum clearing costs have been capitalized to wireless licenses as incurred.
 
 
Goodwill primarily represents the excess of reorganization value over the fair value of identified tangible and intangible assets recorded in connection with fresh-start reporting as of July 31, 2004. Certain of our other intangible assets were also recorded upon adoption of fresh-start reporting and now consist of trademarks which are being amortized on a straight-line basis over their estimated useful lives of fourteen years. Customer relationships acquired in connection with our acquisition of Hargray Wireless, LLC, or Hargray Wireless, in 2008 are amortized on an accelerated basis over a useful life of up to four years.


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We assess potential impairments to our long-lived assets, including property and equipment and certain intangible assets, when there is evidence that events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value may not be recoverable. An impairment loss may be required to be recognized when the undiscounted cash flows expected to be generated by a long-lived asset (or group of such assets) is less than its carrying value. Any required impairment loss would be measured as the amount by which the asset’s carrying value exceeds its fair value and would be recorded as a reduction in the carrying value of the related asset and charged to results of operations.
 
 
We assess potential impairments to our indefinite-lived intangible assets, including wireless licenses and goodwill, on an annual basis or when there is evidence that events or changes in circumstances indicate an impairment condition may exist. In addition, and as more fully described below, on a quarterly basis, we evaluate the triggering event criteria outlined in the authoritative guidance for goodwill and other intangible assets to determine whether events or changes in circumstances indicate that an impairment condition may exist. The annual impairment test is conducted each year during the three months ended September 30.
 
Wireless Licenses
 
Our wireless licenses in our operating markets are combined into a single unit of account for purposes of testing impairment because management believes that utilizing these wireless licenses as a group represents the highest and best use of the assets, and the value of the wireless licenses would not be significantly impacted by a sale of one or a portion of the wireless licenses, among other factors. Our non-operating licenses are tested for impairment on an individual basis because these licenses are not functioning as part of a group with licenses in our operating markets. As of December 31, 2009, the carrying values of our operating and non-operating wireless licenses were $1,890.9 million and $31.1 million, respectively. An impairment loss is recognized on our operating wireless licenses when the aggregate fair value of the wireless licenses is less than their aggregate carrying value and is measured as the amount by which the licenses’ aggregate carrying value exceeds their aggregate fair value. An impairment loss is recognized on our non-operating wireless licenses when the fair value of a wireless license is less than its carrying value and is measured as the amount by which the license’s carrying value exceeds its fair value. Any required impairment loss is recorded as a reduction in the carrying value of the relevant wireless license and charged to results of operations. As a result of the annual impairment test of wireless licenses, we recorded impairment charges of $0.6 million and $0.2 million during the years ended December 31, 2009 and 2008, respectively, to reduce the carrying values of certain non-operating wireless licenses to their estimated fair values. No impairment charges were recorded for our operating wireless licenses as the aggregate fair value of these licenses exceeded the aggregate carrying value.
 
The valuation method we use to determine the fair value of our wireless licenses is the market approach. Under this method, we determine fair value by comparing our wireless licenses to sales prices of other wireless licenses of similar size and type that have been recently sold through government auctions and private transactions. As part of this market-level analysis, the fair value of each wireless license is evaluated and adjusted for developments or changes in legal, regulatory and technical matters, and for demographic and economic factors, such as population size, composition, growth rate and density, household and disposable income, and composition and concentration of the market’s workforce in industry sectors identified as wireless-centric (e.g., real estate, transportation, professional services, agribusiness, finance and insurance). The market approach is an appropriate method to measure the fair value of our wireless licenses since this method values the licenses based on the sales price that would be received for the licenses in an orderly transaction between market participants (i.e., an exit price).
 
As more fully described above, the most significant assumption used to determine the fair value of our wireless licenses is comparable sales transactions. Other assumptions used in determining fair value include developments or changes in legal, regulatory and technical matters as well as demographic and economic factors. Changes in comparable sales prices would generally result in a corresponding change in fair value. For example, a ten percent decline in comparable sales prices would generally result in a ten percent decline in fair value. However, a decline in comparable sales would likely require further adjustment to fair value to capture more recent macro-economic


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changes and changes in the demographic and economic characteristics unique to our wireless licenses, such as population size, composition, growth rate and density, household and disposable income, and the extent of the wireless-centric workforce in the markets covered by our wireless licenses. Spectrum auctions and comparable sales transactions in recent periods have resulted in modest increases to the aggregate fair value of our wireless licenses as increases in fair value in larger markets were slightly offset by decreases in fair value in markets with lower population densities. In addition, favorable developments in technical matters such as spectrum clearing and handset availability have positively impacted the fair value of a significant portion of our wireless licenses. Partially offsetting these increases in value were demographic and economic-related adjustments that were required to capture current economic developments. These demographic and economic factors resulted in a decline in fair value for certain of our wireless licenses.
 
As a result of the valuation analysis discussed above, the fair value of our wireless licenses determined in our 2009 annual impairment test increased by approximately 5% from our annual impairment test performed in September 2008 (as adjusted to reflect the effects of our acquisitions and dispositions of wireless licenses during the period). As of our 2009 annual impairment test, the fair value of our wireless licenses significantly exceeded their carrying value. The aggregate fair value of our individual wireless licenses was $2,425.1 million, which when compared to their respective aggregate carrying value of $1,919.3 million, yielded significant excess fair value.
 
As of our 2009 annual impairment test, the aggregate fair value and carrying value of our individual operating wireless licenses was $2,388.5 million and $1,889.3 million, respectively. If the fair value of our operating wireless licenses had declined by 10% in such impairment test, we would not have recognized any impairment loss. As of our 2009 annual impairment test, the aggregate fair value and carrying value of our individual non-operating wireless licenses was $36.6 million and $30.0 million, respectively. If the fair value of our non-operating wireless licenses had declined by 10% in such impairment test, we would have recognized an impairment loss of approximately $1.7 million.
 
As of December 31, 2009, we evaluated whether any triggering events or changes in circumstances occurred subsequent to our 2009 annual impairment test of our wireless licenses that indicated that an impairment condition may exist. This evaluation included consideration of whether there had been any significant adverse change in legal factors or in our business climate, adverse action or assessment by a regulator, unanticipated competition, loss of key personnel or likely sale or disposal of all or a significant portion of an asset group. Based upon this evaluation, we concluded that there had not been any triggering events or changes in circumstances that indicated that an impairment condition existed as of December 31, 2009.
 
 
We assess our goodwill for impairment annually at the reporting unit level by applying a fair value test. This fair value test involves a two-step process. The first step is to compare the book value of our net assets to our fair value. If the fair value is determined to be less than book value, a second step is performed to measure the amount of the impairment, if any.
 
In connection with the annual test in 2009, significant judgments were required in order to estimate our fair value. We based our determination of fair value primarily upon our average market capitalization for the month of August, plus a control premium. Average market capitalization is calculated based upon the average number of shares of Leap common stock outstanding during such month and the average closing price of Leap common stock during such month. We considered the month of August to be an appropriate period over which to measure average market capitalization in 2009 because trading prices during that period reflected market reaction to our most recently announced financial and operating results, announced early in the month of August.
 
In conducting the annual impairment test during the third quarter of 2009, we applied a control premium of 30% to our average market capitalization. We believe that consideration of a control premium is customary in determining fair value, and is contemplated by the applicable accounting guidance. We believe that our consideration of a control premium was appropriate because we believe that our market capitalization does not fully capture the fair value of our business as a whole or the additional amount an assumed purchaser would pay to obtain a controlling interest in our company. We determined the amount of the control premium as part of our third quarter 2009 testing based upon our relevant transactional experience, a review of recent comparable


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telecommunications transactions and an assessment of market, economic and other factors. Depending on the circumstances, the actual amount of any control premium realized in any transaction involving our company could be higher or lower than the control premium we applied. Based upon our annual impairment test conducted during the third quarter of 2009, we determined that no impairment existed.
 
The carrying value of our goodwill was $430.1 million as of December 31, 2009. As of December 31, 2009, we evaluated whether any triggering events or changes in circumstances had occurred subsequent to our annual impairment test that would indicate an impairment condition may exist. This evaluation required significant judgment, including consideration of whether there had been any significant adverse changes in legal factors or in our business climate, adverse action or assessment by a regulator, unanticipated competition, loss of key personnel or likely sale or disposal of all or a significant portion of a reporting unit. Based upon this evaluation, we concluded that there had not been any triggering events or changes in circumstances that indicated an impairment condition existed as of December 31, 2009.
 
Since management’s evaluation of the criteria more fully described above, the competition in markets in which we operate has continued to intensify. If this competition or other factors were to cause significant changes in our actual or projected financial or operating performance, this could constitute a triggering event which would require us to perform an interim goodwill impairment test prior to our next annual impairment test, possibly as soon as the first quarter of 2010. If the first step of the interim impairment test were to indicate that a potential impairment existed, we would be required to perform the second step of the goodwill impairment test, which would require us to determine the fair value of our net assets and could require us to recognize a material non-cash impairment charge that could reduce all or a portion of the carrying value of our goodwill of $430.1 million.
 
 
We account for share-based awards exchanged for employee services in accordance with the authoritative guidance for share-based payments. Under the guidance, share-based compensation expense is measured at the grant date, based on the estimated fair value of the award, and is recognized as expense, net of estimated forfeitures, over the employee’s requisite service period. Compensation expense is amortized on a straight-line basis over the requisite service period for the entire award, which is generally the maximum vesting period of the award. No share-based compensation was capitalized as part of inventory or fixed assets prior to or during 2009.
 
The determination of the fair value of stock options using an option valuation model is affected by our stock price, as well as assumptions regarding a number of complex and subjective variables. The volatility assumption is based on a combination of the historical volatility of our common stock and the volatilities of similar companies over a period of time equal to the expected term of the stock options. The volatilities of similar companies are used in conjunction with our historical volatility because of the lack of sufficient relevant history for our common stock equal to the expected term. The expected term of employee stock options represents the weighted-average period the stock options are expected to remain outstanding. The expected term assumption is estimated based primarily on the options’ vesting terms and remaining contractual life and employees’ expected exercise and post-vesting employment termination behavior. The risk-free interest rate assumption is based upon observed interest rates during the period appropriate for the expected term of the employee stock options. The dividend yield assumption is based on the expectation of no future dividend payouts by us.
 
As share-based compensation expense under the guidance for share-based payments is based on awards ultimately expected to vest, it is reduced for estimated forfeitures. The guidance requires forfeitures to be estimated at the time of grant and revised, if necessary, in subsequent periods if actual forfeitures differ from those estimates.
 
At December 31, 2009, total unrecognized compensation cost related to unvested stock options was $45.0 million, which is expected to be recognized over a weighted-average period of 2.4 years. At December 31, 2009, total unrecognized compensation cost related to unvested restricted stock awards was $42.5 million, which is expected to be recognized over a weighted-average period of 2.4 years.


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We calculate income taxes in each of the jurisdictions in which we operate. This process involves calculating the current tax expense and any deferred income tax expense resulting from temporary differences arising from differing treatments of items for tax and accounting purposes. These temporary differences result in deferred tax assets and liabilities. Deferred tax assets are also established for the expected future tax benefits to be derived from net operating loss, or NOL, carryforwards, capital loss carryforwards and income tax credits.
 
We must then periodically assess the likelihood that our deferred tax assets will be recovered from future taxable income, which assessment requires significant judgment. We have substantial federal and state NOLs for income tax purposes. Under the Internal Revenue Code, subject to certain requirements, we may “carry forward” our federal NOLs for up to a 20-year period to offset future taxable income and reduce our income tax liability. For state income tax purposes, the NOL carryforward period ranges from five to 20 years. Included in our deferred tax assets as of December 31, 2009 were federal NOL carryforwards of approximately $1.5 billion (which begin to expire in 2022) and state NOL carryforwards of approximately $1.5 billion ($21.9 million of which will expire at the end of 2010). While these NOL carryforwards have a potential value of approximately $570 million in tax savings, there is no assurance we will be able to realize such tax savings.
 
If we were to experience an “ownership change,” as defined in Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code and similar state provisions, at a time when our market capitalization was below a certain level, our ability to utilize these NOLs to offset future taxable income could be significantly limited. In general terms, a change in ownership can occur whenever there is a shift in the ownership of a company by more than 50 percentage points by one or more “5% stockholders” within a three-year period.
 
The determination of whether an ownership change has occurred is complex and requires significant judgment. If an ownership change for purposes of Section 382 were to occur, it could significantly limit the amount of NOL carryforwards that we could utilize on an annual basis, thus accelerating cash tax payments we would have to make and possibly causing these NOLs to expire before we could fully utilize them. As a result, any restriction on our ability to utilize these NOL carryforwards could have a material impact on our future cash flows.
 
None of our NOL carryforwards are being considered as an uncertain tax position or disclosed as an unrecognized tax benefit. Any carryforwards that expire prior to utilization as a result of a Section 382 limitation will be removed from deferred tax assets with a corresponding reduction to valuation allowance. Since we currently maintain a full valuation allowance against our federal and state NOL carryforwards, it is not expected that any possible limitation would have a current impact on our net income.
 
To the extent we believe it is more likely than not that our deferred tax assets will not be recovered, we must establish a valuation allowance. As part of this periodic assessment for the year ended December 31, 2009, we weighed the positive and negative factors with respect to this determination and, at this time, do not believe there is sufficient positive evidence and sustained operating earnings to support a conclusion that it is more likely than not that all or a portion of our deferred tax assets will be realized, except with respect to the realization of a $2.0 million Texas Margins Tax, or TMT, credit. We will continue to closely monitor the positive and negative factors to assess whether we are required to continue to maintain a valuation allowance. At such time as we determine that it is more likely than not that all or a portion of the deferred tax assets are realizable, the valuation allowance will be reduced or released in its entirety, with the corresponding benefit reflected in our tax provision. Deferred tax liabilities associated with wireless licenses, tax goodwill and investments in certain joint ventures cannot be considered a source of taxable income to support the realization of deferred tax assets because these deferred tax liabilities will not reverse until some indefinite future period when these assets are either sold or impaired for book purposes.
 
In accordance with the authoritative guidance for business combinations, which became effective for us on January 1, 2009, any reduction in the valuation allowance, including the valuation allowance established in fresh-start reporting, will be accounted for as a reduction of income tax expense.
 
Our unrecognized income tax benefits and uncertain tax positions have not been material in any period. Interest and penalties related to uncertain tax positions are recognized by us as a component of income tax expense; however, such amounts have not been material in any period. All of our tax years from 1998 to 2009 remain open to examination by federal and state taxing authorities. In July 2009, the federal examination of our 2005 tax year,


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which was limited in scope, was concluded and the results did not have a material impact on our consolidated financial statements.
 
 
We recognize a new customer as a gross addition in the month that he or she activates a Cricket service. We recognize a gross customer addition for each Cricket Wireless, Cricket Broadband and Cricket PAYGo line of service activated. The customer must pay his or her service amount by the payment due date or his or her service will be suspended. Cricket Wireless customers, however, may elect to purchase our BridgePay service, which would entitle them to an additional seven days of service. When service is suspended, the customer is generally not able to make or receive calls or access the internet via our Cricket Broadband service, as applicable. Any call attempted by a suspended Cricket Wireless customer is routed directly to our customer service center in order to arrange payment. In order to re-establish Cricket Wireless or Cricket Broadband service, a customer must make all past-due payments and pay a reactivation charge. For our Cricket Wireless and Cricket Broadband services, if a new customer does not pay all amounts due on his or her first bill within 30 days of the due date, the account is disconnected and deducted from gross customer additions during the month in which the customer’s service was discontinued. If a Cricket Wireless or Cricket Broadband customer has made payment on his or her first bill and in a subsequent month does not pay all amounts due within 30 days of the due date, the account is disconnected and counted as churn. For Cricket Wireless customers who have elected to use BridgePay to receive an additional seven days of service, those customers must still pay all amounts otherwise due on their Cricket Wireless account within 30 days of the original due date or their account will also be disconnected and counted as churn. Pay-in-advance customers who ask to terminate their service are disconnected when their paid service period ends. Customers of our Cricket PAYGo service are generally disconnected from service and counted as churn if they have not replenished or “topped up” their account within 60 days after the end of their current term of service.
 
Customer turnover, frequently referred to as churn, is an important business metric in the telecommunications industry because it can have significant financial effects. Because we do not require customers to sign fixed-term contracts or pass a credit check, our service is available to a broad customer base and, as a result, some of our customers may be more likely to have their service terminated due to an inability to pay.


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Results of Operations
 
Operating Items
 
The following tables summarize operating data for our consolidated operations (in thousands, except percentages).
 
                                                 
    Year Ended
    % of 2009
    Year Ended
    % of 2008
    Change from
 
    December 31,
    Service
    December 31,
    Service
    Prior Year  
    2009     Revenues     2008     Revenues     Dollars     Percent  
 
Revenues:
                                               
Service revenues
  $ 2,143,829             $ 1,709,101             $ 434,728       25.4 %
Equipment revenues
    239,333               249,761               (10,428 )     (4.2 )%
                                                 
Total revenues
    2,383,162               1,958,862               424,300       21.7 %
                                                 
Operating expenses:
                                               
Cost of service (exclusive of items shown separately below)
    609,006       28.4 %     488,298       28.6 %     120,708       24.7 %
Cost of equipment
    561,262       26.2 %     465,422       27.2 %     95,840       20.6 %
Selling and marketing
    411,564       19.2 %     294,917       17.3 %     116,647       39.6 %
General and administrative
    358,452       16.7 %     331,691       19.4 %     26,761       8.1 %
Depreciation and amortization
    410,697       19.2 %     331,448       19.4 %     79,249       23.9 %
Impairment of assets
    639       0.0 %     177       0.0 %     462       261.0 %
                                                 
Total operating expenses
    2,351,620       109.7 %     1,911,953       111.9 %     439,667       23.0 %
Loss on sale or disposal of assets
    (418 )     0.0 %     (209 )     0.0 %     (209 )     (100.0 )%
                                                 
Operating income
  $ 31,124       1.5 %   $ 46,700       2.7 %   $ (15,576 )     (33.4 )%
                                                 
 


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    Year Ended
    % of 2008
    Year Ended
    % of 2007
    Change from
 
    December 31,
    Service
    December 31,
    Service
    Prior Year  
    2008     Revenues     2007     Revenues     Dollars     Percent  
 
Revenues:
                                               
Service revenues
  $ 1,709,101             $ 1,395,667             $ 313,434       22.5 %
Equipment revenues
    249,761               235,136               14,625       6.2 %
                                                 
Total revenues
    1,958,862               1,630,803               328,059       20.1 %
                                                 
Operating expenses:
                                               
Cost of service (exclusive of items shown separately below)
    488,298       28.6 %     384,128       27.5 %     104,170       27.1 %
Cost of equipment
    465,422       27.2 %     405,997       29.1 %     59,425       14.6 %
Selling and marketing
    294,917       17.3 %     206,213       14.8 %     88,704       43.0 %
General and administrative
    331,691       19.4 %     271,536       19.5 %     60,155       22.2 %
Depreciation and amortization
    331,448       19.4 %     302,201       21.7 %     29,247       9.7 %
Impairment of assets
    177       0.0 %     1,368       0.1 %     (1,191 )     (87.1 )%
                                                 
Total operating expenses
    1,911,953       111.9 %     1,571,443       112.6 %     340,510       21.7 %
Gain (loss) on sale or disposal of assets
    (209 )     0.0 %     902       0.1 %     (1,111 )     (123.2 )%
                                                 
Operating income
  $ 46,700       2.7 %   $ 60,262       4.3 %   $ (13,562 )     (22.5 )%
                                                 
 
The following table summarizes customer activity:
 
                         
    Year Ended December 31,  
    2009     2008     2007  
 
Gross customer additions
    3,500,113       2,487,579       1,974,504  
Net customer additions(1)
    1,109,445       942,304       633,693  
Weighted-average number of customers
    4,440,822       3,272,347       2,589,312  
Total customers, end of period
    4,954,105       3,844,660       2,863,519  
 
 
(1) Net customer additions for the year ended December 31, 2008 exclude changes in customers that occurred during the nine months ended September 30, 2008 in the Hargray Wireless markets in South Carolina and Georgia that we acquired in April 2008. We completed the upgrade of the Hargray Wireless networks and introduced Cricket service in these markets in October 2008. Commencing with the fourth quarter of 2008, our net customer additions include customers in the former Hargray Wireless markets.
 
 
Service revenues increased $434.7 million, or 25.4%, for the year ended December 31, 2009 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. This increase resulted primarily from a 35.7% increase in average total customers due primarily to new market launches during 2009 and customer acceptance of our Cricket Broadband service. This increase was partially offset by a 7.6% decline in average monthly revenues per customer. The decline in average monthly revenues per customer reflected increased customer acceptance of our lower-priced Cricket Wireless service plans and increased customer acceptance of our Cricket Broadband service, which is generally priced lower than our most popular Cricket Wireless service plans. Average monthly revenues per customer for the year ended December 31, 2009 were also impacted by increased customer deactivations and reactivations due to the impact of rising unemployment on discretionary spending and increased competitive activity.

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Service revenues increased $313.4 million, or 22.5%, for the year ended December 31, 2008 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. This increase resulted primarily from a 26.4% increase in average total customers due to new market launches, existing market customer growth and customer acceptance of our Cricket Broadband service. This increase was partially offset by a 3.1% decline in average monthly revenues per customer. The decline in average monthly revenues per customer reflected customer acceptance of our lower-priced rate plans, decreased customer acceptance of optional add-on services and the successful expansion of our Cricket Broadband service, which was offered at a lower monthly rate than our premium Cricket Wireless service plans.
 
 
Equipment revenues decreased $10.4 million, or 4.2%, for the year ended December 31, 2009 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. A 41% increase in handset and broadband data card sales volume was more than offset by a reduction in the average revenue per device sold. The reduction in the average revenue per device sold was primarily due to the increased promotions offered to our customers, the expansion of our low-cost handset offerings and the expansion of our Cricket PAYGo product offerings.
 
Equipment revenues increased $14.6 million, or 6.2%, for the year ended December 31, 2008 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. A 22% increase in handset sales volume was partially offset by a reduction in the average revenue per handset sold. The reduction in the average revenue per handset sold was primarily due to the expansion of our low-cost handset offerings.
 
 
Cost of service increased $120.7 million, or 24.7%, for the year ended December 31, 2009 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. The most significant factor contributing to the increase in cost of service was the increase in our fixed costs due to the launch of our largest markets during 2009 and the resultant increase in the size of our network footprint and supporting infrastructure. The number of potential customers covered by our networks increased from approximately 67.2 million covered POPs as of December 31, 2008 to approximately 94.2 million covered POPs as of December 31, 2009. As a percentage of service revenues, cost of service decreased to 28.4% from 28.6% in the prior year period, primarily resulting from the increase in service revenues and the consequent benefits of scale.
 
Cost of service increased $104.2 million, or 27.1%, for the year ended December 31, 2008 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. The most significant factor contributing to the increase in cost of service was the size of our network footprint and supporting infrastructure. The number of potential customers covered by our networks increased from approximately 53.2 million covered POPs as of December 31, 2007 to approximately 67.2 million covered POPs as of December 31, 2008. As a percentage of service revenues, cost of service increased to 28.6% from 27.5% in the prior year period. Network operating costs increased by 2.3% as a percentage of service revenues primarily due to costs associated with new market launches and EvDO-related network costs which were incurred in large part to support the deployment of our Cricket Broadband service and other value-added data services. The increase in network operating costs during 2008 was partially offset by a 1.3% decrease in variable product costs as a percentage of service revenues due to an improved product cost structure and a decrease in customer acceptance of certain optional add-on services that yield lower margins. In addition, during the year ended December 31, 2007, we negotiated amendments to agreements that reduced our liability for the removal of equipment on certain cell sites at the end of the lease term, which resulted in a net gain of $6.1 million and lower network operating costs during that period.
 
 
Cost of equipment increased $95.8 million, or 20.6%, for the year ended December 31, 2009 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. A 41% increase in handset and broadband data card sales volume was partially offset by a reduction in the average cost per device sold, primarily due to the expansion of our low-cost handset offerings and the expansion of our Cricket PAYGo product offerings.
 
Cost of equipment increased $59.4 million, or 14.6%, for the year ended December 31, 2008 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. A 22% increase in handset sales volume and an increase in handset


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replacement-related costs were partially offset by a reduction in the average cost per handset sold, primarily due to the expansion of our low-cost handset offerings.
 
 
Selling and marketing expenses increased $116.6 million, or 39.6%, for the year ended December 31, 2009 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. As a percentage of service revenues, such expenses increased to 19.2% from 17.3% in the prior year period. This percentage increase was largely attributable to a 1.1% increase in media and advertising costs as a percentage of service revenues and a 0.8% increase in store and staffing costs as a percentage of service revenues primarily reflecting costs associated with the launch of our largest markets during 2009 and the costs associated with the expansion of our Cricket Broadband and Cricket PAYGo service offerings.
 
Selling and marketing expenses increased $88.7 million, or 43.0%, for the year ended December 31, 2008 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. As a percentage of service revenues, such expenses increased to 17.3% from 14.8% in the prior year period. This percentage increase was largely attributable to a 1.3% increase in media and advertising costs as a percentage of service revenues reflecting a greater number of new market launches during 2008 and the advertising costs associated with those launches. In addition, there was a 1.2% increase in store and staffing costs as a percentage of service revenues due to the launch of new markets and incremental distribution costs to support our footprint expansion in select existing markets.
 
 
General and administrative expenses increased $26.8 million, or 8.1%, for the year ended December 31, 2009 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. As a percentage of service revenues, such expenses decreased to 16.7% from 19.4% in the prior year period primarily due to the increase in service revenues and consequent benefits of scale.
 
General and administrative expenses increased $60.2 million, or 22.2%, for the year ended December 31, 2008 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. As a percentage of service revenues, such expenses decreased to 19.4% from 19.5% in the prior year period due to the increase in service revenues and consequent benefits of scale.
 
 
Depreciation and amortization expense increased $79.2 million, or 23.9%, for the year ended December 31, 2009 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. The increase in depreciation and amortization expense was due primarily to an increase in property and equipment, net from approximately $1,842.7 million as of December 31, 2008 to approximately $2,121.1 million as of December 31, 2009, in connection with the build-out and launch of our new markets and the improvement and expansion of our networks in existing markets. As a percentage of service revenues, depreciation and amortization decreased to 19.2% from 19.4% in the prior year period.
 
Depreciation and amortization expense increased $29.2 million, or 9.7%, for the year ended December 31, 2008 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. The increase in depreciation and amortization expense was due primarily to an increase in property, plant and equipment, net, from approximately $1,316.7 million as of December 31, 2007 to approximately $1,842.7 million as of December 31, 2008, in connection with the build-out and launch of our new markets and the improvement and expansion of our networks in existing markets. As a percentage of service revenues, depreciation and amortization decreased to 19.4% from 21.7% in the prior year period.
 
 
As more fully described above, as a result of our annual impairment tests of our wireless licenses, we recorded impairment charges of $0.6 million and $0.2 million during the years ended December 31, 2009 and 2008, respectively, to reduce the carrying values of certain non-operating wireless licenses to their fair values.


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As more fully described below and in Note 11 to our consolidated financial statements in “Part II — Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” included in this report, we completed the exchange of certain wireless spectrum with MetroPCS Communications, Inc., or MetroPCS, in March 2009. We recognized a non-monetary net gain of approximately $4.4 million upon the closing of the transaction. This net gain was more than offset by approximately $4.7 million in losses we recognized upon the disposal of certain of our property and equipment during the year ended December 31, 2009.
 
During the year ended December 31, 2008, we incurred approximately $1.5 million in losses on the sale or disposal of property, plant and equipment, including the write-off of equipment with a net book value of $0.3 million as a result of damage from Hurricane Ike. These losses were partially offset by a $1.3 million gain recognized upon our exchange of certain disaggregated spectrum with Sprint Nextel. During the year ended December 31, 2007, we completed the sale of three non-operating wireless licenses for an aggregate purchase price of $9.5 million, resulting in a net gain of $1.3 million.
 
 
The following tables summarize non-operating data for the Company’s consolidated operations (in thousands).
 
                         
    Year Ended December 31,
    2009   2008   Change
 
Equity in net income (loss) of investee
    3,946       (298 )     4,244  
Interest income
    3,806       14,571       (10,765 )
Interest expense
    (210,389 )     (158,259 )     (52,130 )
Other income (expense), net
    469       (7,125 )     7,594  
Loss on extinguishment of debt
    (26,310 )           (26,310 )
Income tax expense
    (40,609 )     (38,970 )     (1,639 )
 
                         
    Year Ended December 31,
    2008   2007   Change
 
Equity in net loss of investee
    (298 )     (2,309 )     2,011  
Interest income
    14,571       28,939       (14,368 )
Interest expense
    (158,259 )     (121,231 )     (37,028 )
Other expense, net
    (7,125 )     (6,182 )     (943 )
Income tax expense
    (38,970 )     (35,924 )     (3,046 )
 
 
Equity in net income (loss) of investee reflects our share of net income (losses) in a regional wireless service provider in which we hold an investment.
 
 
Interest income decreased $10.8 million during the year ended December 31, 2009 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. This decrease was primarily attributable to a decline in short-term interest rates from the corresponding period of the prior year.
 
Interest income decreased $14.4 million during the year ended December 31, 2008 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. This decrease was primarily attributable to a change in our investment policy (and a resulting change in the mix of our investment portfolio), and a decline in interest rates from the corresponding period of the prior year. During 2008, the majority of our portfolio consisted of lower-yielding Treasury bills whereas a large percentage of our portfolio previously consisted of higher-yielding corporate securities.


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Interest expense increased $52.1 million during the year ended December 31, 2009 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. The increase in interest expense resulted primarily from our issuance of $300 million of unsecured senior notes and $250 million of convertible senior notes in June 2008 and our issuance of $1,100 million of senior notes in June 2009. We capitalized $20.8 million of interest during the year ended December 31, 2009 compared to $52.7 million of capitalized interest during the corresponding period of the prior year. We capitalize interest costs associated with our wireless licenses and property and equipment during the build-out of new markets. The amount of such capitalized interest depends on the carrying values of the wireless licenses and property and equipment involved in those markets and the duration of the build-out. We expect future capitalized interest to be less significant given the completion of our launches of our largest markets during 2009. See “— Liquidity and Capital Resources” below.
 
Interest expense increased $37.0 million during the year ended December 31, 2008 compared to the corresponding period of the prior year. The increase in interest expense resulted primarily from our issuance of $300 million of senior notes and $250 million of convertible senior notes in June 2008 and the increases in the interest rate applicable to our $895.5 million term loan under the amendments to our Credit Agreement in November 2007 and June 2008. We capitalized $52.7 million of interest during the year ended December 31, 2008 compared to $45.6 million during the corresponding period of the prior year.
 
 
During the year ended December 31, 2009, we recognized $0.7 million of gains on the sale of certain of our investments in asset-backed commercial paper.
 
During the year ended December 31, 2008, we recognized $7.6 million of net other-than-temporary impairment charges on our investments in asset-backed commercial paper.
 
 
In connection with our issuance of $1,100 million of senior secured notes due 2016 on June 5, 2009, as more fully described below, we repaid all principal amounts outstanding under our Credit Agreement, which amounted to approximately $875.3 million, together with accrued interest and related expenses, paid a prepayment premium of $17.5 million and paid $8.5 million in connection with the unwinding of associated interest rate swap agreements. In connection with such repayment, we terminated the Credit Agreement and the $200 million revolving credit facility thereunder. As a result of the termination of the Credit Agreement, we recognized a $26.3 million loss on extinguishment of debt during the year ended December 31, 2009, which was comprised of the $17.5 million prepayment premium, $7.5 million of unamortized debt issuance costs and $1.3 million of unamortized accumulated other comprehensive loss associated with our interest rate swaps.
 
 
During the year ended December 31, 2009, we recorded income tax expense of $40.6 million compared to income tax expense of $39.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2008. The increase in income tax expense during the year ended December 31, 2009 was attributable to several factors, including a decrease in income tax expense associated with our investment in LCW Wireless and a decrease in our effective state income tax rate as a result of the enactment of the California Budget Act of 2008, which was signed into law on February 20, 2009, which was more than offset by an increase to our tax expense resulting from the termination of our interest rate swaps. The new California law permits taxpayers to elect an alternative method to attribute taxable income to California for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2011. This decrease in our effective state income tax rate resulted in a decrease in our net deferred tax liability and a corresponding decrease in our income tax expense.
 
We recorded a $1.8 million income tax benefit, $1.0 million income tax expense and a $4.7 million income tax benefit during the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively, related to changes in our effective state income tax rate. For the year ended December 31, 2009, our effective state income tax rate decreased which was primarily attributable to state tax law changes. This decrease resulted in a decrease to our net deferred tax


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liability as of December 31, 2009 and a corresponding decrease in our income tax expense. An increase in our effective state income tax rate during the year ended December 31, 2008 resulted in an increase to our net deferred tax liability and a corresponding increase in our income tax expense. The increase in our effective state income tax rate at December 31, 2008 was primarily attributable to subsidiary entity restructuring. A decrease in our effective state income tax rate at December 31, 2007 caused a decrease in our net deferred tax liability and a corresponding decrease in our income tax expense. These decreases were primarily attributable to expansion of our operating footprint into lower taxing states and state tax planning. We recorded an additional $2.5 million income tax benefit during the year ended December 31, 2007 due to a TMT credit, which was recorded as a deferred tax asset. We estimate that our future TMT liability will be based on our gross revenues in Texas, rather than our apportioned taxable income. Therefore, we believe that it is more likely than not that our TMT credit will be recovered and, accordingly, we have not established a valuation allowance against this asset.
 
During the years ended December 31, 2009 and 2008, we recorded $2.4 million in income tax expense and a $1.7 million income tax benefit, respectively, to the consolidated statement of operations with a corresponding amount recorded to other comprehensive income in the consolidated balance sheet resulting from interest rate hedges and marketable securities activity within other comprehensive income.
 
We record deferred tax assets and liabilities arising from differing treatments of items for tax and accounting purposes. Deferred tax assets are also established for the expected future tax benefits to be derived from NOL carryforwards, capital loss carryforwards and income tax credits. We then periodically assess the likelihood that our deferred tax assets will be recovered from future taxable income. This assessment requires significant judgment. Included in our deferred tax assets as of December 31, 2009 were federal NOL carryforwards of approximately $1.5 billion (which will begin to expire in 2022) and state NOL carryforwards of approximately $1.5 billion ($21.9 million of which will expire at the end of 2010), which could be used to offset future ordinary taxable income and reduce the amount of cash required to settle future tax liabilities. To the extent we believe it is more likely than not that our deferred tax assets will not be recovered, we must establish a valuation allowance. As part of this periodic assessment, we have weighed the positive and negative factors with respect to this determination and, at this time, we do not believe there is sufficient positive evidence and sustained operating earnings to support a conclusion that it is more likely than not that all or a portion of our deferred tax assets will be realized, except with respect to the realization of a $2.0 million TMT credit. We will continue to closely monitor the positive and negative factors to assess whether we are required to maintain a valuation allowance. At such time as we determine that it is more likely than not that all or a portion of the deferred tax assets are realizable, the valuation allowance will be reduced or released in its entirety, with the corresponding benefit reflected in our tax provision. Deferred tax liabilities associated with wireless licenses, tax goodwill and investments in certain joint ventures cannot be considered a source of taxable income to support the realization of deferred tax assets because these deferred tax liabilities will not reverse until some indefinite future period.
 
Since we have recorded a valuation allowance against the majority of our deferred tax assets, we carry a net deferred tax liability on our balance sheet. During the year ended December 31, 2009, we recorded a $117.8 million increase to our valuation allowance, which primarily consisted of $104.2 million and $8.5 million related to the impact of 2009 federal and state taxable losses, respectively. During the year ended December 31, 2008, we recorded a $129.7 million increase to our valuation allowance, which primarily consisted of $66.7 million and $6.8 million related to the impact of 2008 federal and state taxable losses, respectively, and $43.9 million attributable to a claim filed with the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, in 2008 for additional tax deductions that were sustained during IRS examination.
 
In accordance with the authoritative guidance for business combinations, which became effective for the Company on January 1, 2009, any reduction in the valuation allowance, including the valuation allowance established in fresh-start reporting, will be accounted for as a reduction of income tax expense.
 
Our unrecognized income tax benefits and uncertain tax positions have not been material in any period. Interest and penalties related to uncertain tax positions are recognized by us as a component of income tax expense; however, such amounts have not been material in any period. All of our tax years from 1998 to 2009 remain open to examination by federal and state taxing authorities. In July 2009, the federal examination of our 2005 tax year,


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which was limited in scope, was concluded and the results did not have a material impact on the consolidated financial statements.
 
 
The following tables present summarized data for each interim period for the years ended December 31, 2009 and 2008. The following financial information reflects all normal recurring adjustments that are, in the opinion of management, necessary for a fair statement of our results of operations for the interim periods presented (in thousands, except per share data):
 
                                 
    Three Months Ended
    March 31,
  June 30,
  September 30,
  December 31,
    2009   2009   2009   2009
 
Revenues
  $ 586,987     $ 597,408     $ 599,468     $ 599,299  
Operating income (loss)
    (1,005 )     26,265       1,374       4,490  
Net loss
    (47,360 )     (61,183 )     (65,407 )     (64,013 )
Net loss attributable to common stockholders
    (50,296 )     (62,751 )     (64,573 )     (61,872 )
Basic loss per share attributable to common stockholders
    (0.74 )     (0.89 )     (0.85 )     (0.82 )
Diluted loss per share attributable to common stockholders
    (0.74 )     (0.89 )     (0.85 )     (0.82 )
 
                                 
    Three Months Ended
    March 31,
  June 30,
  September 30,
  December 31,
    2008   2008   2008   2008
 
Revenues
  $ 468,384     $ 474,858     $ 496,697     $ 518,923  
Operating income
    26,056       14,450       2,391       3,803  
Net loss
    (16,896 )     (24,646 )     (47,270 )     (54,569 )
Net loss attributable to common stockholders
    (18,819 )     (26,556 )     (49,262 )     (55,564 )
Basic loss per share attributable to common stockholders
    (0.28 )     (0.39 )     (0.72 )     (0.82 )
Diluted loss per share attributable to common stockholders
    (0.28 )     (0.39 )     (0.72 )     (0.82 )


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Quarterly Results of Operations Data (Unaudited)
 
The following table presents our unaudited condensed consolidated quarterly statement of operations data for 2009, which has been derived from our unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements (in thousands):
 
                                 
    Three Months Ended  
    March 31,
    June 30,
    September 30,
    December 31,
 
    2009     2009     2009     2009  
 
Revenues:
                               
Service revenues
  $ 514,005     $ 541,585     $ 541,268     $ 546,971  
Equipment revenues
    72,982       55,823       58,200       52,328  
                                 
Total revenues
    586,987       597,408       599,468       599,299  
                                 
Operating expenses:
                               
Cost of service (exclusive of items shown separately below)
    144,344       154,567       156,707       153,388  
Cost of equipment
    157,796       127,775       133,502       142,189  
Selling and marketing
    103,523       96,688       111,702       99,651  
General and administrative
    96,177       90,938       87,077       84,260  
Depreciation and amortization
    89,733       99,621       107,876       113,467  
Impairment of assets
                639        
                                 
Total operating expenses
    591,573       569,589       597,503       592,955  
Gain (loss) on sale or disposal of assets
    3,581       (1,554 )     (591 )     (1,854 )
                                 
Operating income (loss)
    (1,005 )     26,265       1,374       4,490  
Equity in net income of investee
    1,479       515       996       956  
Interest income
    945       642       727       1,492  
Interest expense
    (41,851 )     (49,060 )     (59,129 )     (60,349 )
Other income (expense), net
    (63 )     (46 )     (17 )     595  
Loss on extinguishment of debt
          (26,310 )            
                                 
Loss before income taxes
    (40,495 )     (47,994 )     (56,049 )     (52,816 )
Income tax expense
    (6,865 )     (13,189 )     (9,358 )     (11,197 )
                                 
Net loss
    (47,360 )     (61,183 )     (65,407 )     (64,013 )
Accretion of redeemable noncontrolling interests, net of tax
    (2,936 )     (1,568 )     834       2,141  
                                 
Net loss attributable to common stockholders
  $ (50,296 )   $ (62,751 )   $ (64,573 )   $ (61,872 )
                                 
 
 
In managing our business and assessing our financial performance, management supplements the information provided by financial statement measures with several customer-focused performance metrics that are widely used in the telecommunications industry. These metrics include average revenue per user per month, or ARPU, which measures service revenue per customer; cost per gross customer addition, or CPGA, which measures the average cost of acquiring a new customer; cash costs per user per month, or CCU, which measures the non-selling cash cost of operating our business on a per customer basis; churn, which measures turnover in our customer base; and adjusted OIBDA, which measures operating performance. CPGA, CCU and adjusted OIBDA are non-GAAP financial measures. A non-GAAP financial measure, within the meaning of Item 10 of Regulation S-K promulgated by the SEC, is a numerical measure of a company’s financial performance or cash flows that (a) excludes amounts, or is subject to adjustments that have the effect of excluding amounts, which are included in the most directly comparable measure calculated and presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the consolidated balance sheets, consolidated statements of operations or consolidated statements of cash flows; or


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(b) includes amounts, or is subject to adjustments that have the effect of including amounts, which are excluded from the most directly comparable measure so calculated and presented. See “Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures” below for a reconciliation of CPGA, CCU and adjusted OIBDA to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures.
 
ARPU is service revenue divided by the weighted-average number of customers, divided by the number of months during the period being measured. Management uses ARPU to identify average revenue per customer, to track changes in average customer revenues over time, to help evaluate how changes in our business, including changes in our service offerings and fees, affect average revenue per customer, and to forecast future service revenue. In addition, ARPU provides management with a useful measure to compare our subscriber revenue to that of other wireless communications providers. We do not recognize service revenue until payment has been received and services have been provided to the customer. In addition, customers of our Cricket Wireless and Cricket Broadband service are generally disconnected from service approximately 30 days after failing to pay a monthly bill. Customers of our Cricket PAYGo service are generally disconnected from service if they have not replenished or “topped up” their account within 60 days after the end of their current term of service. Therefore, because our calculation of weighted-average number of customers includes customers who have not paid their last bill and have yet to disconnect service, ARPU may appear lower during periods in which we have significant disconnect activity. We believe investors use ARPU primarily as a tool to track changes in our average revenue per customer and to compare our per customer service revenues to those of other wireless communications providers. Other companies may calculate this measure differently.
 
CPGA is selling and marketing costs (excluding applicable share-based compensation expense included in selling and marketing expense), and equipment subsidy (generally defined as cost of equipment less equipment revenue), less the net loss on equipment transactions unrelated to initial customer acquisition, divided by the total number of gross new customer additions during the period being measured. The net loss on equipment transactions unrelated to initial customer acquisition includes the revenues and costs associated with the sale of handsets to existing customers as well as costs associated with handset replacements and repairs (other than warranty costs which are the responsibility of the handset manufacturers). We deduct customers who do not pay their first monthly bill from our gross customer additions, which tends to increase CPGA because we incur the costs associated with this customer without receiving the benefit of a gross customer addition. Management uses CPGA to measure the efficiency of our customer acquisition efforts, to track changes in our average cost of acquiring new subscribers over time, and to help evaluate how changes in our sales and distribution strategies affect the cost-efficiency of our customer acquisition efforts. In addition, CPGA provides management with a useful measure to compare our per customer acquisition costs with those of other wireless communications providers. We believe investors use CPGA primarily as a tool to track changes in our average cost of acquiring new customers and to compare our per customer acquisition costs to those of other wireless communications providers. Other companies may calculate this measure differently.
 
CCU is cost of service and general and administrative costs (excluding applicable share-based compensation expense included in cost of service and general and administrative expense) plus net loss on equipment transactions unrelated to initial customer acquisition (which includes the gain or loss on the sale of handsets to existing customers and costs associated with handset replacements and repairs (other than warranty costs which are the responsibility of the handset manufacturers)), divided by the weighted-average number of customers, divided by the number of months during the period being measured. CCU does not include any depreciation and amortization expense. Management uses CCU as a tool to evaluate the non-selling cash expenses associated with ongoing business operations on a per customer basis, to track changes in these non-selling cash costs over time, and to help evaluate how changes in our business operations affect non-selling cash costs per customer. In addition, CCU provides management with a useful measure to compare our non-selling cash costs per customer with those of other wireless communications providers. We believe investors use CCU primarily as a tool to track changes in our non-selling cash costs over time and to compare our non-selling cash costs to those of other wireless communications providers. Other companies may calculate this measure differently.
 
Churn, which measures customer turnover, is calculated as the net number of customers that disconnect from our service divided by the weighted-average number of customers divided by the number of months during the period being measured. Customers who do not pay their first monthly bill are deducted from our gross customer


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additions in the month in which they are disconnected; as a result, these customers are not included in churn. Customers of our Cricket Wireless and Cricket Broadband service are generally disconnected from service approximately 30 days after failing to pay a monthly bill, and pay-in-advance customers who ask to terminate their service are disconnected when their paid service period ends. Customers of our Cricket PAYGo service are generally disconnected from service if they have not replenished or “topped up” their account within 60 days after the end of their current term of service. Management uses churn to measure our retention of customers, to measure changes in customer retention over time, and to help evaluate how changes in our business affect customer retention. In addition, churn provides management with a useful measure to compare our customer turnover activity to that of other wireless communications providers. We believe investors use churn primarily as a tool to track changes in our customer retention over time and to compare our customer retention to that of other wireless communications providers. Other companies may calculate this measure differently.
 
Adjusted OIBDA is a non-GAAP financial measure defined as operating income (loss) before depreciation and amortization, adjusted to exclude the effects of: gain/loss on sale/disposal of assets; impairment of assets; and share-based compensation expense (benefit). Generally, for purposes of calculating this measure, corporate-level and regional-level overhead expenses are allocated to our markets based on gross customer additions and weighted average customers by market. Adjusted OIBDA should not be construed as an alternative to operating income or net income as determined in accordance with GAAP, or as an alternative to cash flows from operating activities as determined in accordance with GAAP or as a measure of liquidity.
 
In a capital-intensive industry such as wireless telecommunications, management believes that adjusted OIBDA, as well as the associated percentage margin calculations, are meaningful measures of our operating performance. We use adjusted OIBDA as a supplemental performance measure because management believes it facilitates comparisons of our operating performance from period to period and comparisons of our operating performance to that of other companies by backing out potential differences caused by the age and book depreciation of fixed assets (affecting relative depreciation expenses) as well as the items described above for which additional adjustments were made. While depreciation and amortization are considered operating costs under generally accepted accounting principles, these expenses primarily represent the non-cash current period allocation of costs associated with long-lived assets acquired or constructed in prior periods. Because adjusted OIBDA facilitates internal comparisons of our historical operating performance, management also uses this metric for business planning purposes and to measure our performance relative to that of our competitors. In addition, we believe that adjusted OIBDA and similar measures are widely used by investors, financial analysts and credit rating agencies as measures of our financial performance over time and to compare our financial performance with that of other companies in our industry.
 
Adjusted OIBDA has limitations as an analytical tool, and should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for analysis of our results as reported under GAAP. Some of these limitations include:
 
  •  it does not reflect capital expenditures;
 
  •  although it does not include depreciation and amortization, the assets being depreciated and amortized will often have to be replaced in the future and adjusted OIBDA does not reflect cash requirements for such replacements;
 
  •  it does not reflect costs associated with share-based awards exchanged for employee services;
 
  •  it does not reflect the interest expense necessary to service interest or principal payments on current or future indebtedness;
 
  •  it does not reflect expenses incurred for the payment of income taxes and other taxes; and
 
  •  other companies, including companies in our industry, may calculate this measure differently than we do, limiting its usefulness as comparative measures.
 
Management understands these limitations and considers adjusted OIBDA as a financial performance measure that supplements but do not replace the information provided to management by our GAAP results.


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The following table shows metric information for 2009:
 
                                         
    Three Months Ended   Year Ended
    March 31,
  June 30,
  September 30,
  December 31,
  December 31,
    2009   2009   2009   2009   2009
 
ARPU
  $ 42.21     $ 40.73     $ 39.60     $ 38.66     $ 40.23  
CPGA
  $ 195     $ 201     $ 208     $ 181     $ 196  
CCU
  $ 20.03     $ 18.42     $ 17.73     $ 17.10     $ 18.26  
Churn
    3.3 %     4.4 %     5.4 %     4.7 %     4.5 %
Adjusted OIBDA
  $ 96,802     $ 137,847     $ 121,487     $ 129,455     $ 485,591  
 
 
We utilize certain financial measures, as described above, that are widely used in the industry but that are not calculated based on GAAP. Certain of these financial measures are considered “non-GAAP” financial measures within the meaning of Item 10 of Regulation S-K promulgated by the SEC.
 
CPGA — The following table reconciles total costs used in the calculation of CPGA to selling and marketing expense, which we consider to be the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure to CPGA (in thousands, except gross customer additions and CPGA):
 
                                         
    Three Months Ended     Year Ended
 
    March 31,
    June 30,
    September 30,
    December 31,
    December 31,
 
    2009     2009     2009     2009     2009  
 
Selling and marketing expense
  $ 103,523     $ 96,688     $ 111,702     $ 99,651     $ 411,564  
Less share-based compensation expense included in selling and marketing expense
    (1,583 )     (1,466 )     (1,866 )     (1,349 )     (6,264 )
Plus cost of equipment
    157,796       127,775       133,502       142,189       561,262  
Less equipment revenue
    (72,982 )     (55,823 )     (58,200 )     (52,328 )     (239,333 )
Less net loss on equipment transactions unrelated to initial customer acquisition
    (13,448 )     (8,392 )     (7,708 )     (12,521 )     (42,069 )
                                         
Total costs used in the calculation of CPGA
  $ 173,306     $ 158,782     $ 177,430     $ 175,642     $ 685,160  
Gross customer additions
    889,911       790,933       851,230       968,039       3,500,113  
                                         
CPGA
  $ 195     $ 201     $ 208     $ 181     $ 196  
                                         


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CCU — The following table reconciles total costs used in the calculation of CCU to cost of service, which we consider to be the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure to CCU (in thousands, except weighted-average number of customers and CCU):
 
                                         
    Three Months Ended     Year Ended
 
    March 31,
    June 30,
    September 30,
    December 31,
    December 31,
 
    2009     2009     2009     2009     2009  
 
Cost of service
  $ 144,344     $ 154,567     $ 156,707     $ 153,388     $ 609,006  
Plus general and administrative expense
    96,177       90,938       87,077       84,260       358,452  
Less share-based compensation expense included in cost of service and general and administrative expense
    (10,072 )     (8,941 )     (9,141 )     (8,295 )     (36,449 )
Plus net loss on equipment transactions unrelated to initial customer acquisition
    13,448       8,392       7,708       12,521       42,069  
                                         
Total costs used in the calculation of CCU
  $ 243,897     $ 244,956     $ 242,351     $ 241,874     $ 973,078  
Weighted-average number of customers
    4,058,819       4,432,381       4,555,605       4,716,185       4,440,822  
                                         
CCU
  $ 20.03     $ 18.42     $ 17.73     $ 17.10     $ 18.26  
                                         
 
Adjusted OIBDA — The following table reconciles adjusted OIBDA to operating income (loss), which we consider to be the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure to adjusted OIBDA (in thousands):
 
                                         
    Three Months Ended     Year Ended
 
    March 31,
    June 30,
    September 30,
    December 31,
    December 31,
 
    2009     2009     2009     2009     2009  
 
Operating income (loss)
  $ (1,005 )   $ 26,265     $ 1,374     $ 4,490     $ 31,124  
Plus depreciation and amortization
    89,733       99,621       107,876       113,467       410,697  
                                         
OIBDA
  $ 88,728     $ 125,886     $ 109,250     $ 117,957     $ 441,821  
Less (gain) loss on sale or disposal of assets
    (3,581 )     1,554       591       1,854       418  
Plus impairment of indefinite-lived intangible assets
                639             639  
Plus share-based compensation expense
    11,655       10,407       11,007       9,644       42,713  
                                         
Adjusted OIBDA
  $ 96,802     $ 137,847     $ 121,487     $ 129,455     $ 485,591  
                                         
 
 
 
Our principal sources of liquidity are our existing unrestricted cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments and cash generated from operations. We had a total of $564.2 million in unrestricted cash, cash


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equivalents and short-term investments as of December 31, 2009. We generated $284.3 million of net cash from operating activities during the year ended December 31, 2009, and we expect that cash from operations will continue to be a significant and increasing source of liquidity as our markets mature and our business continues to grow. In addition, we generated $408.8 million of net cash from financing activities during the year ended December 31, 2009, which included proceeds from our issuance of senior secured notes and sale of Leap common stock in June 2009. From time to time, we may generate additional liquidity through future capital markets transactions.
 
We believe that our existing unrestricted cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, together with cash generated from operations, provide us with sufficient liquidity to meet the future operating and capital requirements for our current business operations and our current business expansion efforts. These current business expansion efforts, which are described below, include activities to broaden our product portfolio and to enhance our network coverage and capacity.
 
We determine our future capital and operating requirements and liquidity based, in large part, upon our projected financial and operating performance, and we regularly review and update these projections due to changes in general economic conditions, our current and projected financial and operating results, the competitive landscape and other factors. In evaluating our liquidity and managing our financial resources, we plan to maintain what we consider to be at least a reasonable surplus of unrestricted cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments to be available, if necessary, to address unanticipated variations or changes in working capital, operating and capital requirements, and our financial and operating performance. If cash generated from operations were to be adversely impacted by substantial changes in our projected financial and operating performance (for example, as a result of unexpected effects associated with the current economic downturn, further changes in general economic conditions, higher interest rates, increased competition in our markets, slower-than-anticipated growth or customer acceptance of our products or services, increased churn or other factors), we believe that we could manage our expenditures, including capital expenditures, to the extent we deemed necessary, to match our capital requirements to our available liquidity. Our projections regarding future capital and operating requirements and liquidity are based upon current operating, financial and competitive information and projections regarding our business and its financial performance. There are a number of risks and uncertainties (including the risks to our business described above and others set forth in this report in Part I — Item 1A. under the heading entitled “Risk Factors”) that could cause our financial and operating results and capital requirements to differ materially from our projections and that could cause our liquidity to differ materially from the assessment set forth above.
 
Our current business expansion efforts include activities to broaden our product portfolio and to enhance our network coverage and capacity. We have introduced two new product offerings, Cricket Broadband and Cricket PAYGo, in all of our and our consolidated joint ventures’ markets to complement our Cricket Wireless service. In addition, we recently began distributing Cricket Broadband and daily and monthly pay-as-you-go versions of our Cricket PAYGo product through national mass-market retailers. We also continue to enhance our network coverage and capacity in many of our existing markets.
 
Our business operations and expansion efforts have historically required significant expenditures. Our operating expenses for the years ended December 31, 2009 and 2008 were $2,351.6 million and $1,912.0 million, respectively. In addition, we and our consolidated joint ventures made approximately $699.5 million and $795.7 million in capital expenditures, including related capitalized interest costs, during the years ended December 31, 2009 and 2008, respectively, primarily to support the build-out and launch of new markets, the expansion and improvement of our existing wireless networks and other planned capital projects. Capital expenditures for fiscal year 2010, however, are expected to be significantly less than our capital expenditures in fiscal years 2008 and 2009 and are primarily expected to reflect expenditures required to support the ongoing growth and development of markets in commercial operation. As described above, we believe that our existing unrestricted cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, together with cash generated from operations, provide us with sufficient liquidity to meet the future operating and capital requirements for our current business operations and our current business expansion efforts.
 
In addition to our current business expansion efforts, we may pursue other activities to build our business. Future business expansion efforts could include the launch of new product and service offerings, the acquisition of


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additional spectrum through private transactions or FCC auctions, the build-out and launch of Cricket services in additional markets, entering into partnerships with others, the acquisition of other wireless communications companies or complementary businesses or the deployment of next-generation network technology over the longer term. We do not intend to pursue any of these other business expansion activities at a significant level unless we believe we have sufficient liquidity to support the operating and capital requirements for our current business operations, our current business expansion efforts and any such other activities.
 
As of December 31, 2009, we had $2,750 million in senior indebtedness outstanding, which comprised $1,100 million of 9.375% unsecured senior notes due 2014, $250 million of 4.5% convertible senior notes due 2014, $300 million of 10.0% unsecured senior notes due 2015 and $1,100 million of 7.75% senior secured notes due 2016, as more fully described below. The indentures governing Cricket’s secured and unsecured senior notes contain covenants that restrict the ability of Leap, Cricket and the subsidiary guarantors to take certain actions, including incurring additional indebtedness beyond specified thresholds.
 
Although our significant outstanding indebtedness results in certain risks to our business that could materially affect our financial condition and performance, we believe that these risks are manageable and that we are taking appropriate actions to monitor and address them. For example, in connection with our financial planning process and capital raising activities, we seek to maintain an appropriate balance between our debt and equity capitalization and we review our business plans and forecasts to monitor our ability to service our debt and to assess our capacity to incur additional debt under the indentures governing Cricket’s secured and unsecured senior notes. In addition, as the new markets and product offerings that we have launched continue to develop and our existing markets mature, we expect that increased cash flows will ultimately result in improvements in our consolidated leverage ratio. Our $2,750 million of secured and unsecured senior notes and convertible senior notes all bear interest at a fixed rate; however, we continue to review changes and trends in interest rates to evaluate possible hedging activities we could consider implementing. In light of the actions described above, our expected cash flows from operations, and our ability to manage our capital expenditures and other business expenses as necessary to match our capital requirements to our available liquidity, management believes that it has the ability to effectively manage our levels of indebtedness and address the risks to our business and financial condition related to our indebtedness.
 
 
The following table shows cash flow information for the three years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007 (in thousands):
 
                         
    Year Ended December 31,
    2009   2008   2007
 
Net cash provided by operating activities
  $ 284,317     $ 350,646     $ 316,181  
Net cash used in investing activities
    (875,792 )     (909,978 )     (622,728 )
Net cash provided by financing activities
    408,766       483,703       367,072