MetroPCS Planning 4G Network

Newcoming carrier MetroPCS ( PCS) could turn out to be one of the first U.S. carriers to deploy a nationwide next-generation, 4G mobile network.

The new-to-the-scene prepaid mobile operator says it is planning to roll out an LTE (long-term evolution) network in the second half of next year. It has been hinting about creating a 4G network since last August.

"It is our desire to deploy LTE in 2010, probably the latter half," Tom Keys, MetroPCS' chief operating officer, told the GigaOM Website (http://www.gigaom.com). He added that the company would support the deployment via the launch of its first smartphone in the second or third quarter of the year, but gave no indication of a possible high-speed, LTE-related data card device.

Currently, MetroPCS runs CDMA networks (like Sprint ( S) and Verizon ( VZ)) in 14 of the top 25 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. Keys says that the smaller footprint will allow it to roll out LTE quicker than many of its larger rivals.

In the New York City area, MetroPCS' coverage shows their service area is still a work in progress. Currently, its PCS service ends abruptly in northern Westchester and Suffolk counties as well as areas of New Jersey near New York City's borders.

A future move to LTE follows a similar decision by rival US CDMA operator, Verizon Wireless, which has said it should be able to begin LTE trials later this year. International CDMA operators such as China Telecom ( CHA), Telus ( TU) and Bell in Canada, and Japan's KDDI have also been linked with similar strategies.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet.com's senior technology correspondent.

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