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San Diego-based Leap Wireless, the parent company of contract-free cell phone carrier Cricket Communications, announced Wednesday that it had added a net 175,000 customers in the fourth quarter of 2011, bringing its total number of users to 5.9 million. Overall the company says it added about 413,000 accounts in the last year.

“The business continued to show progress in the fourth quarter, with attractive momentum in our voice business due to strong smartphone uptake, continued adoption of our Muve Music™ service and the expansion of our national retail distribution,” said Leap president and chief executive officer Doug Hutcheson.

In November it was rumored that Leap might purchase a significant portion of T-Mobile’s subscriber base from AT&T in order to gain approval of a merger between the two larger wireless carriers. Though the deal never materialized, Leap appears to be doing well on its own due to budget-conscious consumers being driven toward its Cricket service.

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