MetroPCS to deploy VoLTE in early 2012

Flat-rate operator MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) plans to introduce its first commercial voice over LTE services in the first quarter of 2012, the company said during its earnings call with analysts this week.

The company will introduce its first carrier VoIP services in the first quarter of 2012 CEO Roger Linquist said today during Metro's earnings call. Using its new long-term evolution (LTE) network, MetroPCS will take the first steps in migrating its circuit-switched voice service over to an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS)-driven voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) service, a process it has already begun with the migration of its SMS and MMS services to the same platform.

"We are planning to begin introducing VoLTE-capable handsets early next year to move voice as well as data traffic to our LTE network," said Linquist. The CEO said that moving to VoIP will enable the operator to use the limited spectrum it has for LTE more efficiently.

MetroPCS operates both CDMA and LTE networks in 14 major markets. Its CDMA covers 146 million POPs, and its LTE should completely overlay that footprint by early next year using spectrum it owns in the advanced wireless service (AWS) band PCS spectrum.

MetroPCS posted increases in net profit and revenue but also reported a drop in subscriber additions for the second quarter. The flat-rate carrier also said it will boost capital expenditures as it tries to stay ahead of increased data demands posed by smartphones running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform.

MetroPCS said it will increase capex this year from a previous estimate of $700 million to $900 million to a new target of $900 million to $1 billion. Linquist said the increase relates to both capacity increases for the company's CDMA network as well as ongoing LTE footprint expansion. He said the expenses will be used for new cell sites, radio access network equipment and core network upgrades and indicated that the move is to address smartphone users' data demands.

"The significant increase in usage is putting demands on the system," he said.

Though posting increases in net profit and revenue, shareholders were disappointed with the number of subscribers MetroPCS added in the second quarter--about 200,000 compared with 303,000 the year-ago period and 725,000 in the first quarter.

For more:
- see this Connected Planet article
- see this FierceWireless article

Special Report: Wireless in the second quarter of 2011

Related articles:
MetroPCS adds 725K subs in Q1, banks on Android
MetroPCS bullish on LightSquared, if stumbling blocks are removed
MetroPCS sets sights on smartphones, LTE for 2011 growth
MetroPCS launches first LTE smartphone, Samsung Galaxy Indulge

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