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MetroPCS, Cricket could be in for big 2012

It seems a little early for earnings reports, but that’s what we got yesterday from both MetroPCS and Cricket. Unfortunately, neither fared particularly well in the fourth quarter when compared to the same period last year. Metro added 197,000 subscribers, down from 298,000 last year, while Cricket added 175,000, down from 300,000. In terms of churn both companies stayed relatively level year-over-year, though Cricket appears to have lowered its rate a bit. That wraps up 2011 for both companies, but what lies ahead in 2012 could be quite exciting.

After AT&T’s failed takeover of T-Mobile, they’re exploring other ways to acquire spectrum. Verizon already jumped in on Cox’s spectrum, leaving AT&T with fewer places to turn. While the government wasn’t ready to approve the 2nd and 4th largest wireless carriers merging, perhaps it would be more amenable if AT&T went after the 5th or 6th biggest carrier.

AT&T would probably rather pick up both. After all, both are regional carriers and only own so much spectrum. Picking up both probably wouldn’t even give them as much as the T-Mobile deal would have. It wouldn’t have brought in the same number of customers, either. T-Mobile has over 20 million subscribers, while MetroPCS and Cricket have just over 15 million between them.

At the same time, both companies are moving forward with their own initiatives. Cricket has started rolling out LTE networks, and is doing well with its Muve Music service. MetroPCS already has a few LTE networks, has plans for further expansion, and has a few other ticks up its sleeve. As we learned yesterday, they’re bringing live local TV to their smartphones in 2012. It promises to be a big year for both companies.

Numbers via FierceWireless.