Leap Wireless and MetroPCS Communications announced Monday a national roaming agreement.
The deal covers the carriers' existing and future coverage areas, and could potentially enable the carriers to offer free roaming on each other's networks. As the mobile operators continue to expand, deals like this could be useful in attracting new customers.
"We appreciate the manner in which both companies seized the opportunity to work together to achieve these mutually positive results," said Doug Hutcheson, president and CEO of Leap, in a statement. "Both companies are pleased to have enhanced their spectrum portfolio in several key markets as we seek to provide our customers with the best wireless products and services."
The companies also said they would enter into a spectrum-exchange agreement in certain markets, and that a cross-license agreement for intellectual property has been reached, ending all outstanding litigation between the carriers.
"The expanded coverage which MetroPCS and Leap can offer as a result of this agreement will be a major benefit to our customers," said Roger Linquist, chairman, president, and CEO of MetroPCS, in a statement. "These agreements benefit both parties and allow each of us to focus on the growth of our respective businesses."
Both carriers offer no-contract, flat-rate cell phone service for about $40 a month, but MetroPCS generally offers service in the urban areas, while Leap has been known for rural coverage. The companies soon will go head-to-head in a portion of central California and in Las Vegas, and could be in direct competition in other markets in the future.
The companies flirted with a merger last year, but the deal fell through. MetroPCS has about 4.6 million subscribers, and Leap has about 3.3 million subscribers under its Cricket brand.