No-contract U.S. operator MetroPCS is tapping its main LTE squeeze, Ericsson AB, for a 4G core upgrade that will spruce up its voice-over-IP offerings and help it branch into more advanced talk and video chat features in the future.
Ericsson worked with MetroPCS from the end of 2009 to enable the operator to claim the first 4G LTE launch in the U.S. Now, MetroPCS is going back to Ericsson to upgrade its Evolved Packet Core (EPC) network.
The goal is to upgrade its nascent voice-over-LTE and Rich Communications Service (RCS) offerings. RCS is a 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standard designed to give carriers a set protocol to allow users to communicate across networks in talk, video or text.
Amongst the hardware upgrades, the operator will get the Ericsson Evolved Packet Gateway (EPG) on SSR 8000 Routers and the vendor's Mobility Management Entity (MME) on the Ericsson Blade system. Ericsson says it will also offer "multi-technology operations support systems" as part of the contract. This could become important as MetroPCS and T-Mobile USA work toward closing their planned merger.
Why this matters
MetroPCS has been a pioneer in introducing VoLTE and Rich Communications Services in the U.S. This contract shows that it is still working toward making 4G voice and associated services better.