SAN DIEGO ( TheStreet) -- Leap Wireless ( LEAP), a cellular service provider which operates the Cricket brand, has hired Goldman Sachs and formed a special board committee to explore strategic options including a sale or merger with rivals, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal.

Leap, which operates at the lower end of the market with 4.7 million customers, is facing increasing competition from larger carriers like AT&T ( T - Get Report), Verizon ( VZ - Get Report) and Sprint ( S - Get Report), which have encroached on its prepaid turf by slashing contract rates, sources told the Journal.

The company intends to "reassesses its alternatives and checks its options out there right now," one person familiar with the process told the newspaper.

Leap's advisers have in recent weeks sent out feelers to carriers such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless to see if they would be interested in acquiring Leap.

According to the Journal's sources, some bankers consider MetroPCS ( PCS) as the most likely partner for Leap. MetroPCS unsuccessfully bid for Leap in late 2007 valuing the company at $5.5 billion, about five times its current market value, the Journal notes.

A MetroPCS spokesman declined to comment for the Journal.

Leap's board also has formed a three-person committee which is being advised by Morgan Stanley to assess strategic options, the Journal reports.

Shares of Leap closed Monday at $14.92.