MetroPCS Continues 4G Price War

MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS) is now offering its LTE service for prices as low as $40 a month, anticipating a 4G price war even before Verizon Wireless gets to showcase its initial smart phones using the new technology at International CES .

MetroPCS is now offering unlimited talk, text, "4G LTE web browsing" and YouTube access for $40 a month. Another $10 a month buys users "an additional 1GB of data access to download live streaming content" and "premium" content over WiFi with its MetroSTUDIO service. $60 gets buyers unlimited data access for streaming and features like 18 video-on-demand channels and audio downloads.

The new MetroPCS 4G LTE rate plans are available in the nine metropolitan areas where MetroPCS offers 4G LTE services, including Boston, Dallas–Fort Worth, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Sacramento and San Francisco. MetroPCS plans to expand its services into Atlanta, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tampa this year and will continue the buildout of its existing LTE metropolitan areas through the year. The MetroPCS plans most directly challenge Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s WiMax 4G smartphone service offerings. Sprint offers its WiMax phones with a $69 monthly unlimited plan, but charges an extra $10 4G premium, even if users are in a 3G-only coverage area.

Verizon hasn't yet announced pricing for its 4G LTE smart phones, the first of which are expected in the first half of 2011. The carrier currently offers a choice of two USB LTE modems with 5GB of downloads for $50, or double that cap for $80. Every extra gigabyte over the cap costs $10 more.

Why this matters
MetroPCS is already eating away at the idea that carriers can charge a premium for LTE phone service with its new pricing places. Similarly, Verizon undercut its own $59.99 3G USB modem plan with its initial $50 LTE pricing.

Aggressive plan pricing is MetroPCS's best weapon in the battle to get new users and keep existing subscribers on its LTE and 3G networks. The carrier is unlikely to be able to match Sprint or Verizon's 4G footprints or offer as many device choices as the big boys, but it can try and undercut its rivals with this new technology.

For more
Read more about LTE pricing in the US:

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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