What makes him powerful: Former paging executive Roger Linquist, the chairman and CEO of MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS), has seen a lot of trends come and go in the wireless industry. But MetroPCS' goal of providing cost-conscious customers with the best value in the wireless industry is proving to be a long-standing success story.
Under Linquist's guidance, MetroPCS skipped deploying 3G EV-DO technology and instead became the first U.S. operator to launch a commercial LTE network in September 2010 when the company launched LTE in Las Vegas using the AWS band. Deploying LTE was a big risk for the company, and Linquist has said that it took the company about a year and a half to gain sufficient interest from the vendors in the ecosystem so it could economically deploy the technology in the AWS band.
Today MetroPCS offers LTE service in its 14 core markets and has lots of available capacity on its LTE network. Linquist's challenge now is to get LTE Androids handsets down to a price point of around $100, which will make them appealing to the company's cost-conscious subscribers and make more customers migrate to the LTE network. Linquist expects the low-cost LTE devices to arrive around mid-2012.
In the meantime, the company is deploying EV-DO data service in a little less than 20 percent of its cell sites to augment its CDMA 1X data service that exists in all of its markets. The deployment, along with Wi-Fi offloading, serves as a bridge until MetroPCS can get more people onto its LTE network.
Beyond the network, MetroPCS has also worked hard to expand its content portfolio.
In August, the company teamed with on-demand digital music service Rhapsody to jointly introduce Music for All, an unlimited, ad-free service optimized for Android handsets and bundled into the company's $60 monthly rate plan. Linquist said the company looked at many different vendors and with Rhapsody it found a clearinghouse that matched its economics.
MetroPCS and Linquist are already looking ahead to 2012 when the company plans to launch VoLTE. In addition, the company recently said it will be making some changes to its marketing campaign and broadening its customer focus to include families.
But where Linquist seem to shine the brightest is in his ability to navigate his company through challenging circumstances (such as finding a way to launch LTE in the AWS spectrum). We expect to see more of Linquist's creative solutions in the year ahead. --Sue