MetroPCS launches LTE in US

The Samsung Craft, the world’s first LTE handset

US carrier Metro PCS has launched LTE in Las Vegas, marking the launch of the first LTE network in the US and an industry milestone in the shape of the world’s first LTE handset.

The Samsung Craft, the world’s first LTE handset, will be available for $299, with Metro PCS offering two different LTE plans. A $55 plan including unlimited voice, texts and data access and a $60 plan with access to premium video-on-demand content and MetroStudio multimedia content.

According to Mike Roberts, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, the move signals the shift of mobile networks from 3G to 4G and from a focus on voice to data.

“Metro PCS has 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,” said Roberts. “This could lead to problems such as poor battery life and dropped calls or data sessions, which happened with early WCDMA and WiMAX handsets.”

But 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. Similarly, the Samsung Craft will compete with both the Samsung Epic and HTC EVO 4G from Sprint on Clearwire’s WiMAX network. However, the Epic and EVO 4G are likely to deliver better user experiences since they are based on a more mature technology and network, Roberts said, adding that MetroPCS’s packages are more competitively priced.

Why not attend the LTE North America event taking place on 10-11 November 2010 in Dallas, Texas – for more information click here

“The move also shows how Samsung has established a strong position in the 4G handset market particularly in the US, where it has now launched both WiMAX and LTE handsets,” Roberts added.

Verizon Wireless will launch LTE later this year in the US with a much larger network with a population coverage up to 100 million, but it will probably only launch with USB modems since they are much easier to develop than handsets. Informa forecasts that the US will be the largest LTE market in the world through 2015, growing rapidly to reach 1.5 million subscribers at the end of 2011 and more than 70 million at the end of 2015.

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  • Samsung Electronics

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