T-Mobile makes no promises on MetroPCS iPhone, but vows to transition customers

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T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) CEO John Legere said it is possible, but by no means certain, that its prepaid brand MetroPCS will get Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, but he and CMO Mike Sievert made clear they want to move as many MetroPCS customers as possible onto T-Mobile's HSPA+ and LTE networks.

The T-Mobile executives fanned out Wednesday to mark the completion of the merger between the two companies and lay out their priorities. T-Mobile started trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "TMUS" yesterday, and the stock opened at $16.25 per share before ending the day up about 2 percent to $16.52.

"The answer to that is not 'No,'" Legere told AllThingsD of MetroPCS getting the iPhone, but added, "It's not imminent; I think that's safe to say." T-Mobile started selling the iPhone 5 nationwide through its no-contract "Simple Choice" plans on April 12 and the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 in select markets. T-Mobile had long sought the iPhone as a way to help it stanch postpaid subscriber defections. 

Legere made it plain that T-Mobile is looking to migrate as many MetroPCS customers as possible off Metro's older CDMA network and onto T-Mobile's larger network footprint. T-Mobile is currently building out its LTE network and expects to cover 100 million POPs with LTE by mid-year and 200 million by year-end. Additionally, the company has 225 million POPs covered with its HSPA+42 network. T-Mobile is also working to deploy HSPA onto its 1900 MHz spectrum--it currently covers 140 million POPs with that network and plans to grow that number to 200 million POPs by the end of the year.

"Don't be confused," Legere said. "We're not running two companies. We are clearly going to be one integrated company that uses two brands to go to market." To that end, T-Mobile has said it expects all of MetroPCS' customers to be moved onto the new, combined network by 2015 (which T-Mobile has said will be aided by MetroPCS' 60-65 percent handset turnover rate).

Sievert told CNET that T-Mobile will start selling phones compatible with its network at MetroPCS stores later in the second quarter, with the goal of selling only T-Mobile-compatible phones at MetroPCS stores by year-end.

Sievert acknowledged that moving all MetroPCS customers onto the new network will take "the next couple of years." MetroPCS had 8.99 million total subscribers at the end of the first quarter.

For now there will be no changes to MetroPCS' pricing, but Sievert indicated that could change, though he did not provide specifics. "It's hard to make a prediction on where that will go," he said.

For more:
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this CNET article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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