MetroPCS to launch LTE in 2010

MetroPCS plans to launch Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in the second half of 2010, according to a top executive at the company.

The flat-rate regional carrier will launch the 4G standard next year, according to Tom Keys, the company's chief operating officer, in an interview with the blog GigaOM. Keys did not specify a specific timetable, but said, "It is our desire to deploy LTE in 2010, probably the latter half." 

MetroPCS, which currently operates a CDMA network on AWS and PCS spectrum, said last August that it had picked LTE as its 4G standard, following the lead of Tier 1 operator Verizon Wireless. At that time it did not provide a specific timeline. The company reaffirmed its commitment to LTE in its earnings call last week, but did not say when it expected to launch the technology.

Keys said that MetroPCS' relatively small footprint meant that it could be "nimble" and could potentially deploy quickly. Despite not having a smartphone in its lineup of handsets, Keys said that MetroPCS would be getting one from a Canadian smartphone maker in the third quarter of this year. 

Verizon is the North American carrier that has the most detailed and specific LTE rollout plans so far. In an interview in February with FierceWireless, Verizon Communications CTO Dick Lynch said, "I can demonstrate a commercial system this year. I can show you a footprint of respectable magnitude in 2010." Verizon revealed its vendors for LTE last month at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

"We have had working systems in operation for a few months," Lynch said. "I am confident that while it's aggressive and I won't say that there won't be a few bumps in the road along the way. I am comfortable that LTE has essentially been primed for a good launch in 2010."     

For more:
- see this GigaOm post

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