The competition for wireless customers across the Carolinas is about to become more intense, thanks to another player entering the field.

Leap Wireless International plans to greatly expand its service areas in North and South Carolina, having acquired 13 wireless spectrum licenses from bankrupt Urban Comm-North Carolina.

Competitors already include Cingular, Verizon, Sprint, Alltel, Embarq and Suncom. Cable providers such as Time Warner are planning to roll out wireless services in conjunction with Sprint.

Leap, which is based in San Diego, paid $31.8 million in cash for the licenses that cover areas such as Raleigh, Durham and the Triangle. The company already offers service in Charlotte and the Triad.

"With the acquisition of these 13 spectrum licenses, we are well positioned to further expand our wireless services into new markets in North and South Carolina during 2007," said Doug Hutcheson, Leap’s chief executive officer. "Adding Raleigh-Durham and the other new markets to our spectrum portfolio continues our clustering strategy implementation, which provides even more value to our customers. When coupled with our unlimited services for voice and the growing portfolio of data services, we believe the Carolinas offer another exciting opportunity for the business."

Leap is best known for its Cricket and Jump Mobile services that offer flat-rate service plans for local voice, domestic long distance, and unlimited text, instant messaging and picture messaging.

The markets covered by the agreement outside of RTP in North Carolina include: Asheville-Hendersonville, Burlington, Goldsboro-Kinston, Greenville-Washington, New Bern, Roanoke Rapids and Rocky Mount-Wilson.

South Carolina markets include: Florence, Myrtle Beach, Orangeburg, Sumter, and Charleston.

Leap can now reach some 9 million potential customers in the Carolinas.

In 2005, Leap reported revenues of nearly $915 million. It has 1,800 employees.