Updated: MetroPCS committed to unlimited data for now

During the FierceWireless "Future of 4G Interactive Executive Summit" today, panelist Ed Chao, senior vice president of engineering and network operations at MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS), provided some additional details on his company's LTE market launch. Specifically, Chao said that MetroPCS will continue delivering prepaid unlimited broadband data to its customers and is not planning to implement any tiered pricing plans. However, he added that the company will remain flexible as it's still early in the firm's LTE deployment. MetroPCS launched LTE in Las Vegas yesterday, making it the first U.S. operator to deploy LTE.

Chao added that the company deployed LTE now because it wanted to launch a platform that it could leverage for many years and provide different types of services in the future. For example, Chao said that while MetroPCS is currently keeping its voice and text traffic on the CDMA network and the data on the LTE network, he envisions eventually offering VoIP and various multimedia services over the LTE network. "LTE creates a foundation in which we  can grow from simple voice, text and web to more services," he said.

In terms of roaming, Chao said that MetroPCS has no roaming partners now because no other operators have launched LTE in the U.S. However, he is hopeful that when other LTE networks launch MetroPCS will be able to negotiate reasonable data roaming rates.  He also said that because the company isn't "spectrum-rich," they are able to manage bandwidth carefully using various optimization techniques and policy control functions.

MetroPCS yesterday launched LTE in the Las Vegas market offering a $55 plan that includes unlimited voice, texting and LTE data access. In addition, the company has a $60 plan that adds 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. The carrier did not provide average LTE download speeds.

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Article updated Sept. 22 at 2 p.m. to clarify MetroPCS' position on unlimited data pricing