On the Hot Seat with MetroPCS President Thomas Keys

MetroPCS thrives with its flat-fee, no contract, all-you-can-eat wireless service plans that cost between $30 and $50 per month. The company, which just launched its ninth market in Los Angeles, recently made an unsolicited offer for competitor Leap Wireless. FierceWireless editor Brian Dolan spoke to MetroPCS' President and COO Thomas Keys about future market deployments, the company's rapidly increasing footprint and the proposed deal with Leap Wireless.


FierceWireless: Did the L.A. market rollout pose any unique challenges?

Keys: This one was all scale and size. L.A. is just so big and has such a dense population base, which is such an opportunity for us. In order to give the kind of coverage that we want--which is to cover 11 million pops initially today and expand to up to 15 million pops by the end of 2008--it takes a little bit more time than if you are going to cover a few million POPs. It's just scale and size.

FierceWireless: Which carriers will MetroPCS compete with the most in the L.A. market?

Keys: We don't actually start off looking to compete with anybody. Because what we do is extremely unique, and it's our core competency … we really don't try to target anyone else's demo[graphic]. We believe we serve people who are generally value-driven, would like to have no contract, want the freedom to choose and the ability to talk for 43,000 minutes a month (if they choose to) for as little as $30 a month.

FierceWireless: Do you have an estimate for the size of that underserved market in L.A. currently?

Keys: No, I really don't. Anybody who has a contract or was not able to get a contract prior is a customer for Metro. We serve all classes-everybody is equal. At the end of the day, when people see the value that we give, we think there is an ample-sized market for us to get.

FierceWireless: Some analysts have estimated the L.A. market accounts for 25 percent of your national footprint, making it your largest market to date. Is this accurate?

Keys: That would be accurate and, yes, Los Angeles is our largest deployment to date, although at the end of 2008 into 2009 we'll be looking to bring up the Northeast corridor, which will consist of three markets: Philadelphia, Boston and, of course, New York.

FierceWireless: In that order?

Keys: No, not necessarily in that order-it's too early to tell. There's too much work to be done in design and building, but we'll have [those plans] laid out early in 2008.

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