MetroPCS Saddles Up LTE in Dallas
MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS) has now lit up Long Term Evolution (LTE) in two metropolitan areas in the US with the mobile broadband technology going live in Dallas–Fort Worth on Wednesday morning.
MetroPCS became the first US operator to launch a commercial LTE service in the US earlier this month, going live with the Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) Craft LTE phone in Las Vegas. Thomas Keys, COO of MetroPCS, told LR Mobile last week that the operator hopes to have "a few more markets" up in the next couple of months.
The key difference between the MetroPCS deployments in Las Vegas and Dallas is on the infrastructure side. Samsung supplied both the device and the networking gear for Sin City.
In contrast, the DFW metro area launch marks Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)'s first commercial LTE launch in the US. The vendor says it is providing RBS 6000 LTE base stations, Evolved Packet Core (EPC) networking, and IP-based radio access networking so that MetroPCS can run its LTE and CDMA services "over a common connection."
When asked about average download speeds the network will offer, however, a spokesman for Ericsson deferred to MetroPCS. [Ed note: Or should that be MetroLTE?] The operator remains coy about exact speeds for now:
"We're seeing speeds better than 3G networks today but it will depend on device, location, and application," a MetroPCS spokesman wrote in an email. "We are working to provide throughput that will support the applications that we are offering."
So far the only device offered on the network is the $299 Samsung Craft. MetroPCS's Keys says that cheaper phones and more types of LTE devices should arrive early in 2011.(See MetroPCS: Cord Cutting & Video Snacking.)
With the second city launch, MetroPCS has now firmly established itself as the early leader in LTE with a pre-paid offering that is unlikely to be exactly replicated by Verizon Wireless when it launches LTE later this year. (See LTE Starts Here.)
Nonetheless, Verizon's LTE network footprint is likely to dwarf MetroPCS's soon enough. The carrier will have up to 30 LTE markets available by the end of 2010. Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam is expected to talk LTE at his keynote next week at the CTIA fall show in San Francisco. (See CTIA: Business Is in the Air.) — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile