MetroPCS launches LTE in Las Vegas, promises more markets 'soon'

MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) launched its LTE service in Las Vegas, giving the flat-rate prepaid carrier claim on the first commercial LTE launch in the United States.

Samsung craft metropcs LteThe carrier provided a bevy of details about its LTE plans, but was less clear on how its LTE expansion will proceed. MetroPCS said the prepaid service will cost either $55 or $60 per month. In addition to Las Vegas, the carrier said more markets are "coming soon," including Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, locations in Florida, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Sacramento and San Francisco, according to a MetroPCS website. The company said it will continue 4G market launches later this year and into early 2011, and will add more LTE devices throughout 2011.

MetroPCS said the $55 plan will include unlimited voice, texting and LTE data access. The $60 plan will add access to the carrier's new MetroSTUDIO, which offers multimedia content including access to full-track downloads, ringtones and ring-back tones. The $60 plan also will provide access to premium video-on-demand content.

The carrier said its Las Vegas LTE network runs in 5 MHz of the carrier's AWS spectrum. A carrier spokesperson declined to provide transmission speeds.

"We're not disclosing specific throughput details at this point, as it will depend on location and application. We are working to provide throughput that will support the applications that we are offering. The key is that we are able to deliver a fast Web experience and a rich multimedia experience on the handset for our customers," said MetroPCS spokesman Drew Crowell.

Verizon has said its forthcoming LTE network will provide average speeds of 5-12 Mbps.

MetroPCS said its LTE-capable Samsung Craft will be available in Las Vegas metropolitan area stores and online for $299, after $50 instant rebate. The phone has a 3.3-inch AMOLED touchscreen display, full Qwerty keyboard, 3.2-megapixel camera and WiFi. Unlike Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), which is using SIM cards for its LTE devices, the Samsung Craft will use a Universal Integrated Circuit Card to authenticate the phone to the network.

Verizon is launching LTE service in 25-30 commercial markets in the fourth quarter, covering 100 million POPs. Verizon has said it expects its first LTE phones to be available by the middle of next year. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) has said it will launch commercial LTE service by mid-2011, and will cover between 70 million and 75 million POPs by the end of next year.

Samsung provided the network equipment for the MetroPCS network in Las Vegas, a MetroPCS spokesman confirmed to FierceWireless last month, and Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) provided the equipment in Dallas.

For more:
- see this release
- see these pictures, videos and specs of the Samsung Craft
- see this MetroPCS site

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