MetroPCS will launch 6 to 7 LTE handsets by year-end

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MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) said that nearly 90 percent of its network is now outfitted with LTE and the regional operator plans to launch six to seven new LTE handsets by year-end. Many of those handsets will be in the $99 to $149 price range to fit with the company's promotional plan to provide "LTE for All."

Earlier this summer, MetroPCS announced plans to launch the Huawei Activa 4G for $149 with a mail-in rebate, making it the company's cheapest LTE smartphone yet. The device is MetroPCS' fifth LTE handset.

During the second quarter, MetroPCS lost 186,000 net customers, bringing its total subscriber base to 9.3 million. The company also reported that it now has 700,000 LTE subscribers, representing about 8 percent of its total base. That's up from 500,000 subscribers at the end of the first quarter.

Speaking during the quarterly earnings call this morning, MetroPCS executives said that they expect their LTE push in the second half of the year to entice more of their 3G Android customers to upgrade to LTE. Importantly, the company hinted that the new LTE smartphones that will launch will include new capabilities such as mobile TV. Earlier this year MetroPCS said it will support Mobile Content Ventures' Dyle mobile TV service with a Dyle-capable handset.

Interestingly, MetroPCS, which has said it will offer Voice over LTE this year, also said it would launch a Rich Communications Services platform that would enable its move to IMS and allow the company to offer advanced services such as letting customers make calls and send video simultaneously. 

Company executives also talked about MetroPCS' plans to refarm its existing 3G spectrum for LTE and continue to search for more spectrum opportunities. Regarding Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) 2.5 GHz spectrum, MetroPCS executives said that the 2.5 GHZ spectrum is useful, particularly in areas where a dense network is necessary. But they also said that the spectrum was an "expensive option" and noted that Clearwire's plan to build a TD-LTE network--scheduled to launch in June of next year--may have "time to market" issues.

Here's a breakdown of other key MetroPCS metrics for the quarter:

Revenue: Service revenue rose 4 percent to $1.16 billion for the quarter. Quarterly consolidated total revenues were $1.3 billion, up 6 percent over second quarter 2011. Adjusted EBITDA was $477 million, a 33 percent increase over second quarter 2011. EBITDA margin was 41.1 percent and quarterly net income was $149 million, an increase of 77 percent over second quarter 2011.

ARPU: Average revenue per user was $40.62, an increase of 13 cents over $40.49 in second quarter 2011.

Churn: Churn was 3.4 percent in the quarter, down slightly from 3.9 percent at the end of second quarter 2011.

For more:
- see this release
- see this WSJ article
- see this Reuters article

Special Report: Wireless in the second quarter of 2012

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