MetroPCS: AWS Could Be 4G Roaming Choice

NEW YORK -- MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS) believes the advanced wireless service (AWS) radio waves it is riding on could give it more options for roaming between carrier 4G networks in the near future.

MetroPCS has deployed 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) on its AWS (1700/2100MHz) and PCS (1900MHz) bands in 14 areas in the U.S. "All our phones are on AWS," said Ed Chao, senior vice president of engineering and network operations at MetroPCS, at a 4G launch event in midtown Manhattan Tuesday.

Chao believes that MetroPCS's support for the AWS spectrum could open up opportunities for its users to get access to more 4G cities through roaming agreements in the future.

"It seems like AWS is becoming the roaming band," Chao told Light Reading Mobile.

T-Mobile US Inc. and Cricket Communications Inc. are both deploying LTE on the AWS band. T-Mobile is expected to launch in 2013, and Cricket has started launching in cities like Tucson, Ariz.

Chao hopes to see the building blocks of 4G roaming agreements in place within the next 12 to 18 months.

Verizon Wireless has also said it will allow roaming on its planned LTE network on AWS if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approves its $3.6 billion deal to buy AWS licenses from four cable companies.

Chao stressed that he hasn't seen the wording of Verizon's AWS roaming concession but suggested that any opening up of AWS mobile broadband should be "good for us."

Verizon, for its part, has said in a filing that it has already offered to talk AWS roaming with MetroPCS without a response from the smaller carrier.

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— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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