A year after rejecting a $5.2 billion merger offer from MetroPCS, Leap Wireless signed a roaming and spectrum exchange agreement with MetroPCS that also settles intellectual property litigation between the two companies. With more than eight million customers between them, Leap and MetroPCS rank as two of the largest regional wireless carriers in the U.S. Both companies have built their businesses on no-contract, flat rate plans that are targeted primarily to young and low-income subscribers. That pricing model has been the subject of an ongoing legal dispute through which Leap accused MetroPCS of infringing Leap’s flat-rate pricing patent. Although analysts have long touted the benefits of a merger between the companies, Leap turned down last year’s offer of 2.75 shares of MetroPCS stock for each outstanding share of Leap stock as too low. In a development that sources say will enable both companies to build their respective networks, the companies agreed Monday on a roaming pact that will enable their respective subscribers to take advantage of services provided by both companies in markets served by either carrier without roaming fees or at reasonable rates. According to officials of both companies, the ten-year agreement encompasses “virtually all of the top 200 markets in the nation” and is intended to boost the competitive stance of both carriers against larger rivals that include AT&T and Verizon Wireless. As part of the deal, the companies would also exchange spectrum in markets where both carriers are licensed but where only one is using their authorized frequencies. Subject to FCC consent, Leap would acquire 10 MHz of spectrum in certain California, Washington, and Oregon markets, while MetroPCS would gain spectrum in various Texas, Florida, and Louisiana markets. The companies have also pledged to end their ongoing patent dispute.