LTE [Long-Term Evolution] is expected to be the next generation of wireless technology, surpassing 3G networks. MetroPCS has introduced the first LTE network for the US. Las Vegas, well known for being the location of consumer electronics announcements each January at CES, is the lucky first city to benefit. MetroPCS jumped out of the gate ahead of Verizon and AT&T.
AT&T?s President and CEO Randall Stephenson claimed at Goldman Sachs Communacopia XIX Conference, that they plan to have 75 million potential customers covered with LTE by the end of 2011, but AT&T is currently more focused on expanding its HSPA [High Speed Packet Access] plans.
In August, Verizon completed its LTE technical trials and was embarking on customer trials in five cities. Seattle, Washington is expected to be one of the Verizon friendly-user trial sites. Boston, Massachusetts had been an earlier testing location.
MetroPCS added icing to the cake in their introduction of a new LTE-compatible phone, the Samsung Craft, featuring its ability to carry multimedia content. The Craft uses Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. By upgrading to LTE from its current CDMA [Code Division Multiple Access] network, MetroPCS hopes to offer better, and still low-cost, service to its customers. LTE service costs $55 for unlimited talk, text and data. For $5 more you get separate channels of video content. Not exactly a smartphone, the Craft is a little pricey at $299.
PhoneNews was on site and jumped into the fray by actually buying the Samsung Craft and reporting on that experience. They tell us that "all of the corporate-owned stores in Las Vegas had the Craft in-stock". The clerks at a MetroPCS store validated that there are two LTE plans, one $55/month, and a $60/month plan that adds unlimited video on demand, both without having to sign a contract.