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Ericsson Lands LTE Gig at MetroPCS

Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) landed its second Long Term Evolution (LTE) deal in the U.S. today as MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS) announced that it will use the Swedish vendor's equipment in its next-gen mobile broadband network.

The pay-as-you-go CDMA operator also revealed its LTE service launch schedule -- late 2010 in its major metropolitan areas. It may not be the first LTE network to be up and running in the U.S., but it looks set to be a close second behind Verizon Wireless , if all goes to plan for both operators. (See Verizon Makes LTE Connection in Boston & Seattle , Verizon Wants LTE ASAP, and Verizon to Complete LTE Network by 2014?)

Ericsson is also supplying LTE radio access equipment and evolved packet core (EPC) equipment to Verizon, along with Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). (See MWC 2009: Verizon Picks LTE Vendors.)

So the latest tally for U.S. LTE contracts is Ericsson, 2; AlcaLu, 1. (But who's counting?)

Like Verizon, MetroPCS is a CDMA operator planning to deploy LTE for its next-gen mobile broadband network. (See MetroPCS Chooses LTE for 4G Wireless Network.)

At launch, MetroPCS said it expects to offer a dual-mode CDMA/LTE smartphone from Samsung Corp. , which the carrier announced today was its initial handset supplier for the next-gen mobile network. Previously, MetroPCS has also worked with ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) to develop LTE devices. (See MetroPCS Gets to Work on LTE Phones.)

MetroPCS has been in the news of late not just for its next-gen mobile plans, but also for M&A speculation. Reuters reported recently that the operator was talking to banks about a possible deal, but that it wasn't in talks with Leap Wireless International Inc. (Nasdaq: LEAP). (See Who Will Buy Verizon's Alltel Leftovers?)

For LTE developments in the U.S., the next big news could come from AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). The operator aims to start trialling the technology in 2010 and launch services in 2011. But the operator has not yet named its suppliers for the mobile broadband project. For now, though, AT&T is busy squeezing more capacity out of its 3G network. (See AT&T's LTE Suppliers and AT&T to Boost 3G Speeds .)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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