MetroPCS launches second LTE market in Dallas

MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) launched its second LTE market, Dallas-Ft. Worth, and continued to tout its LTE lead on larger rivals Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T).

MetroPCS' launch also marks the first North American LTE kickoff for Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC), which is one of the flat-rate carrier's primary LTE suppliers (Samsung is operating the LTE equipment for MetroPCS' first market, Las Vegas). Ericsson said it supplied base stations, IP-RAN and evolved packet core technology for MetroPCS' Dallas-Ft. Worth launch. Ericsson also is an LTE supplier to Verizon and AT&T.

Just as in Las Vegas, MetroPCS is offering the LTE Samsung Craft, a Qwerty handset that it is selling for $299 after a $50 mail-in rebate. On pricing, MetroPCS is offering a prepaid $55 plan that includes unlimited voice, texting and LTE data access. The carrier's $60 plan also gives users access to the carrier's new MetroSTUDIO, which offers multimedia content including access to full-track downloads, ringtones, video-on-demand content and ring-back tones.

MetroPCS has said it is aiming to have roughly 80 percent of its existing CDMA footprint covered by the first quarter of next year. On its website, the carrier said LTE is "coming soon" to Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, locations in Florida, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Sacramento and San Francisco. MetroPCS counts 7.6 million total subscribers, and has access to spectrum licenses covering 146 million people. With the addition of roaming agreements, MetroPCS' services reach roughly 220 million people.

The company is keeping marketing low-key for now, but according to the Dallas Morning News it will boost its LTE marketing as it expands its LTE footprint in 2011. Although it is first to market, MetroPCS will soon have to contend with LTE service from Verizon, which is launching 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 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.

However, the LTE services from Verizon and AT&T likely will support faster download speeds than those of MetroPCS due to the bandwidth and technical characteristics of the no-contract carrier's LTE deployment.

For more:
- see this Dallas Morning News article
- see this Ericsson release
- see this MetroPCS release

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