MetroPCS Communications has launched commercial 4G LTE services in the United States, offering talk, text and 4G Web access. MetroPCS is also offering a commercially available 4G LTE-enabled handset, the Samsung Craft. Service will initially be available in Las Vegas, expanding into the remaining MetroPCS cities throughout the year.
As the pioneer of the unlimited, no-annual-contract, flat-rate wireless services space, MetroPCS is leading with the no-annual-contract 4G LTE offer. Consumers will be able to experience 4G LTE services by selecting one of two service plans – $55 or $60. In addition to talk, text and a faster 4G Web experience initially on an unlimited basis, MetroPCS is introducing some new applications and features including:
- MetroSTUDIO, powered by RealNetworks, is available on the $60 service plan. MetroSTUDIO is a new source of multimedia content, including access to full-track downloads, ringtones and ring-back tones, as well as premium video content from NBC Universal, Black Entertainment Television (BET) and Univision, available on-demand.
- A new social networking and instant messaging aggregation application, which harnesses notifications, friends and content from the Facebook, MySpace and Twitter social networks and AIM, MSN and Yahoo! IM clients into a single interface that consumers can access with one click.
- Upgraded MetroNavigator feature with the addition of voice-activated GPS and turn-by-turn directions.
MetroPCS is initially offering the Samsung Craft in Las Vegas metropolitan area stores and online for $299, after $50 instant rebate, plus tax.
Mike Roberts, Principal Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, commented on the launch in a prepared statement:
"This is a milestone in the mobile market both in the U.S. and globally. It signals the shift of mobile networks from 3G to 4G and from a focus on voice to data. Metro PCS has also put its name in the mobile history books by becoming the first mobile operator in the world to launch an LTE handset. But it’s a risky move because handsets using new mobile technologies take years to develop and this one is very early. This could lead to problems such as poor battery life and dropped calls or data sessions, which happened with early WCDMA and WiMAX handsets – time will tell if being first to market with an LTE handset will pay off for Metro PCS.
"In the short term the Metro PCS LTE service will compete head-to-head with Clearwire’s WiMAX service which is also available in Las Vegas," added Roberts. "Similarly the Samsung Craft on the Metro PCS LTE network will compete with both the Samsung Epic and HTC EVO 4G from Sprint. The Samsung Epic and HTC EVO 4G are likely to deliver better user experiences since they are based on a more mature technology and network, but the Samsung Craft and Metro PCS LTE network will improve rapidly. Metro PCS has also launched LTE services at aggressive prices or $55/month or $60/month for unlimited talk, text and data, compared to $80/month or more from Sprint."