MetroPCS Beats Verizon to LTE in Sin City

MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS) became the first US operator to offer Long Term Evolution (LTE) services today as it officially announced the launch of the 4G services in Las Vegas.

As expected, the LTE service has arrived on the US mobile scene ahead of Verizon Wireless 's anticipated 4G launch later this year. And it may be no coincidence that MetroPCS announced Las Vegas for its first 4G city on the same day that Verizon kicked off its Verizon Developer Community conference there. (See MetroPCS LTE Net May Launch in September and MetroPCS Gears Up for LTE.)

The first device available on the network is the multi-mode LTE/CDMA Samsung Corp. Craft smartphone, which MetroPCS is initially offering for $299 (after a $50 instant rebate) in its Las Vegas shops and online. (See Las Vegas – Mobile Broadband Capital of the US and CTIA 2010: The LTE Smartphone Scramble.)

The operator offers two monthly plans for the LTE service -- $55 and $60 -- and there is no annual contract. Initially, MetroPCS says it will offer the service on an unlimited basis. (See Clearwire's Pricing Window Is Wide Open.)

In addition to the new high-speed mobile network, the operator also launched several applications and features, such as MetroSTUDIO. This content service, powered by RealNetworks Inc. (Nasdaq: RNWK), is available on the $60 plan and includes access to full-track music downloads, ringtones, and on-demand video content.

The other new features are a social networking and instant messaging aggregation app and a new MetroNavigator feature for voice-activated GPS and turn-by-turn directions.

The Las Vegas network was deployed with equipment from Samsung and will cover most of MetroPCS's CDMA footprint in the city. MetroPCS plans to roll out LTE to its other markets later this year and early in 2011.

Next year, the operator says it plans to expand its LTE coverage as well as add new devices.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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