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SAN DIEGO-Leap Wireless International Inc. appears ready to spread across the country this year. The locally based, publicly traded new wireless provider says it has contracted with Chicago-based real estate services company Equis Corp. to help it add 50 new retail sites across the country, eight administrative locations and 10 cell-switching centers by the end of the year.

Leap offers a flat rate, all-you-can-talk local wireless service and brand called Cricket that is priced competitively with traditional landline service. Already this year, Equis has negotiated leases for the company totaling approximately 100,000 sf of office space and 48,000 sf of retail space.

David Wise, Vice President-Transaction Management and head of Equis’ San Diego office, spearheaded the real estate process for Leap’s Cricket brand service from strategy development to site selection to negotiations and move-in while Equis Project Manager Melissa Hoy managed the space planning and build-out of the Cricket stores.

“Equis has been instrumental to our success in meeting a very aggressive roll-out schedule,” said Rick Segil, Vice President of Market Launches for Leap’s Cricket service. “David and Steve Ross [also in Equis' San Diego office] supported our real estate needs so we could focus on building our network, launching our service and adding customers.”

During the first three months of the year, due to the increased expenses involved with the national rollout, Leap lost $114.4 million on revenues of $36.8 million, which are up from $10 million in the fourth quarter due to an increased number of customers as a result of the expansion. At close of trading Thursday on the Nasdaq, shares of Leap Wireless were trading at $26.15 apiece, up 70 cents on the day. They have traded as high as $81.87 (Sept. 2000) and as low as $20.50 (March 2001)in the past 52 weeks.

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