What makes him powerful: Roger Linquist is a no-nonsense CEO who is committed to delivering the best wireless value in the industry to his customers. A former paging carrier CEO (he founded PageMart Wireless), Linquist has a long history in the wireless industry, which came in handy when he founded flat-rate operator MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) in 1994.
Under Linquist's direction, MetroPCS out-maneuvered Verizon Wireless when in September it became the first U.S. operator to launch a commercial LTE network. The company has so far launched LTE in Dallas, Las Vegas, Detroit, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. But unlike other operators that are initially focusing their 4G deployment plans on dongles and aircards, MetroPCS is focusing on handsets. The company is selling the first LTE handset in the world--the Samsung Craft, which is a BREW-based feature phone optimized for video.
The company is moving full-steam ahead with Voice over LTE and will test the service in first quarter 2011. Linquist hopes that once MetroPCS launches VoLTE it will see a lot of cost savings from migrating its voice customers to LTE.
But Linquist sees LTE as being about more than offering customers high-speed broadband data and VoLTE. MetroPCS believes that consumers want their smartphones to be entertainment devices and has debuted Metro Studio, a content offering powered by RealNetworks, to provide streaming video and audio to their smartphones. This focus on entertainment certainly isn't unique to MetroPCS, but it's interesting that the prepaid operator is putting so much effort behind it.
Unlike other prepaid carriers that are losing customers to traditional operators' flat-rate plans, MetroPCS continues to attract subscribers. During the third quarter, MetroPCS added 223,249 net subscribers--an increase of 237 percent over the third quarter of 2009--bringing its total subscriber base to 7.8 million. Financially, the carrier also fared well in the third quarter. MetroPCS' service revenues increased 16 percent to $942 million.
The competitive landscape may be intensifying and changing, but under Linquist's careful guidance, MetroPCS appears to be succeeding at staying a step ahead of the rest. --Sue