Cricket's first market was Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1999 and through much of its early growth became known as a network focused on small, rural markets.
In September 2007, MetroPCS, Cricket Wireless's competing carrier at the time, announced a $5.3 billion bid to merge with Leap Wireless. Leap informally rejected the bid less than two weeks later. MetroPCS officially withdrew the bid less than two months later. In December 2007, Cricket acquired Hargray Communications Group's wireless telecommunications business.
In September 2008, Cricket and MetroPCS entered into a 10-year roaming agreement covering both companies' existing and future markets. The companies also entered into a spectrum exchange agreement covering licenses in certain markets. In November 2008, they launched "Premium Extended Coverage", a roaming partnership with 14 wireless companies. In August 2010, Cricket and Sprint signed a five-year wholesale agreement (MVNO) which allowed Cricket to utilize Sprint's nationwide 3G EVDO network in the United States.
In July 2013, AT&T agreed to buy Cricket Wireless' parent for $1.2 billion. The FCC approved the acquisition between AT&T and Leap Wireless in March 2014.
Prior to its acquisition by AT&T, Cricket's CDMA network used its home network and roaming agreements with Sprint, among other CDMA carriers. However, Cricket's CDMA network was shut down and the spectrum was reframed for use on AT&T's HSPA+ and LTE networks. Following the acquisition by AT&T, Cricket Wireless released devices that use AT&T's 3G, 4G, and 4G LTE networks.
Cricket Wireless noted on their old website that CDMA service would be terminated as early as September 2015. Most devices prior to the merger would not be compatible on the GSM network except the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s. Compatible iPhone devices would only require a new SIM card.
In October 2014, Cricket Wireless (and its parent company, AT&T Inc.) came under scrutiny for intercepting and modifying its customers' email traffic to downgrade and prevent encryption of the conversation and its metadata. An engineer at a digital security and privacy firm, Golden Frog, first noticed the issue in September 2013 via their Aio Wireless connection (later acquired by Cricket). Upon further investigation by the privacy firm in June 2014, Golden Frog determined that Cricket masked the STARTTLS command in email server responses, thereby "putting its customers at serious risk by inhibiting their ability to protect online communications." In October, a Washington Post investigation revealed that "Cricket did not address repeated questions about the issue and did not alert customers, many of whom rely on Cricket as their sole Internet service, that they would not be able to protect their e-mails from prying eyes. AT&T, which absorbed Cricket when it acquired Leap Wireless that spring, did not respond to a request for comment." The EFF also published a technical analysis condemning ISPs like Cricket from tampering with customer internet traffic.