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Cricket to cut staff in San Diego

Cricket Communications Inc. will cut about 10 percent of its local work force in an effort to slash spending.

The wireless provider will lay off 49 employees at its headquarters at 5887 Copley Drive on Dec. 9, according to a notice filed with the state.

Its parent company, San Diego-based Leap Wireless International Inc. (Nasdaq: LEAP), sells prepaid wireless services to about 6 million subscribers under the Cricket name.

“We recognize that industry growth has slowed, and we had an organization that was sized for continued growth,” said Greg Lund, a company spokesman, in an emailed statement.

Cricket’s no-contract perk is becoming increasingly common among competitors, leaving customers with other options.

Leap lost 289,000 customers in the second quarter, compared to just 103,000 during the same period a year ago.

A loss of $41.6 million in the second quarter was more than what analysts expected, and the company promised to shave 2012 capital expenditures by about $80 million. Third-quarter results will be released Wednesday.

“As we focus on profitability, cash flow and optimizing the value of our assets, we are making the hard decisions to evolve the structure of our organization, and the way the business is operated, to most effectively support our future endeavors,” Lund said.

Based on a company analysis, Cricket identified functions and roles that could be consolidated or are no longer necessary, he said.

Some of the affected positions include accountants, analysts, software engineers, legal counsel, directors of device strategy and product management, and product managers, according to the detailed layoff notice.

About 440 employees remain in San Diego, Lund said. Its offices in Fresno and Los Angeles will lay off 16 employees on Dec. 9 as part of the effort.

“Our important priority is improving the customer experience, which means we need to re-focus our resources on initiatives that directly support these efforts,” he said.

The affordable carrier's smartphone plans start at $50 per month, and the latest model on its shelves is the HTC Desire C.

The $179.99 phone allows for unlimited music downloads via Cricket's Muve Music plan.

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