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Regional Report

SAN DIEGO

Leap to Sell Airwaves Rights To Advance Its Expansion

Leap Wireless International, which offers cellphone service under the Cricket brand, said it plans to buy and sell the rights to the airwaves in certain U.S. markets, and use the proceeds to upgrade its network to next-generation technology.

According to a Dec. 5 announcement:

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• Leap has entered a deal to give it more capacity in the Chicago market. Specifically, it plans to buy rights to 12 megahertz worth of spectrum from Verizon Wireless for $204 million. The move would supplement 10 megahertz of spectrum Leap already uses in that city.

• The transaction would go two ways. Leap said it plans to sell Verizon some of its excess spectrum in various, unspecified U.S. markets for $188 million.

• Savary Island Wireless LLC — which Leap describes as a non-controlled and majority-held venture — has struck a deal to sell Verizon some of the spectrum it holds in various U.S. markets for $172 million. Cricket will use some of the proceeds to pay off debt.

Leap said the deals would end up giving it net cash proceeds of more than $100 million. The San Diego company said it will use the proceeds to help its deployment of a fourth-generation cellphone technology called LTE. Leap said it plans to roll out LTE over two-thirds of its network footprint within two to three years.

The transactions still need regulatory approval.

Leap stock trades on the Nasdaq under the symbol LEAP.

— Brad Graves

SOUTH BAY

Sandag Moves Ahead With Plan to Purchase Toll Road

The San Diego Association of Governments, the regional planning and transportation agency for San Diego County and its 18 cities, reviewed a slew of legal documents and authorized the group’s executive team to move forward with the purchase of South Bay Expressway, the southern portion of state Route 125, at its Dec. 2 meeting.

A vote to continue contracting with South Bay Expressway LLC, the entity now operating the only toll road in the county, for six months following the purchase passed 17-1, with Lemon Grove Mayor Mary Sessom opposed.

The road, which runs from state Route 54 to Otay Mesa and the U.S.-Mexico border, is owned by the state’s Department of Transportation but leased to SBX for 30 years.

The road opened in 2007 just as the recession was beginning, causing a big drop in ridership. SBX filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010.

Elected officials belonging to Sandag’s board of directors have indicated they are amenable to decreasing the current toll structure on the nine-mile roadway, but haven’t made a decision on this, said spokesman David Hicks.

The general plan is to lower tolls (it costs $4 one-way to travel the entire road) and boost its use, relieving congestion on Interstate 805.

The negotiated price for the road is $341.5 million. The bulk of the cost, some $268 million, will come from TransNet funds now allocated to improving I-805. The rest of the cost would come from debt financing, Hicks said.

At press time, Sandag’s board was expected to take a final vote on the purchase Dec. 16.

— Mike Allen

CARLSBAD

Callaway to Debut Its Tech Clubs in February

Carlsbad-based Callaway Golf Co. announced Dec. 7 that its newest club offerings, the RAZR Fit driver and fairway woods, will be available for sale worldwide Feb. 17.

A company statement said the clubs make use of several proprietary technologies deploying an adjustable socket with moveable weights to improve ball flight and trajectory.

The system allows golfers to adjust the club’s face angle to three address positions — open, square and closed — controlled within a cog, or rotatable element that changes the angle of the shaft axis relative to the head. Rotating the cog lets golfers choose a preferred view during address, while minimizing slice or hook generated by the club’s delivery to the ball.

In the driver head, OptiFit weights, of 12 grams and 2 grams, are included in the club head’s sole and are also adjustable, allowing golfers to shift the center of gravity to optimize ball flight, the statement said.

— Lou Hirsh

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