MetroPCS details Samsung 'Craft' LTE handset, promises content 'studio'

Regional, no-contract carrier MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) offered a few more details on its planned LTE rollout, currently scheduled for later this year, including initial launch markets, planned content offerings and handset pricing expectations.

During the carrier's quarterly earnings conference call with analysts, MetroPCS chief Roger Linquist said the carrier's planned LTE handset from Samsung--which will be called the "Craft"--will sell at a price comparable with the carrier's current smartphone offerings. MetroPCS currently sells the BlackBerry Curve for $279. Linquist also promised LTE netbooks and tablets at some point in the future, but said the carrier will start first with handsets.

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), which also is planning an LTE launch this year, has said it won't offer LTE handsets until the middle part of next year.

Interestingly, Linquist said MetroPCS plans to expand its smartphone lineup beyond Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry. "Our lineup will include a number of Android devices by the end of the year," he said.

Such actions come as little surprise: MetroPCS rival Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) plans to launch Kyocera's Zio Android phone this fall.

As for MetroPCS' LTE plans, Linquist said the carrier plans to build a "proprietary MetroPCS studio" that will provide streaming video, full-track music downloads and TV offerings over LTE. He did not provide details, and a MetroPCS representative declined to expand on the news.

Linquist said MetroPCS will first launch LTE in Dallas-Ft. Worth and Las Vegas (the carrier previously only said it would launch this year in Las Vegas). Linquist also said that, at some point in the future, MetroPCS will migrate its CDMA voice customers to VoIP technology working over LTE, explaining such a move will provide substantial, additional capacity. He did not provide details.

Executives from Verizon Wireless have also confirmed the nation's largest carrier plans to eventually move voice traffic from CDMA onto LTE via VoIP.

Finally, MetroPCS executives said the carrier plans to complete its LTE buildout in early 2011. The carrier counts around 7 million subscribers across 11,000 cities and towns in the United States.

For more:
- listen to this MetroPCS conference call

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