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4G World: MetroPCS plays the equal-opportunity operator


CHICAGO--Revealing what may wind up being his operator’s marketing tagline of the future, “LTE for everyone,” MetroPCS chief operating officer Tom Keys told an audience at 4G World that his company is evolving from a mere low-cost prepaid operator to one that is actively horning in on the national operators’ core customer base.

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Keys described the trend in terms of customers with choice and customers with no choice. Previously MetroPCS was pigeonholed into serving the latter subscriber—budget-minded consumers who couldn’t afford pricey postpaid plans or consumers who couldn’t pass the credit check. But now, Keys said MetroPCS has started signing up in droves the former type—customers who could afford to pay for a premium postpaid plan and meet all the credit requirements but they choose instead to go the low-cost prepaid no-contract route Metro offers.

Consequently, MetroPCS will soon change its marketing proposition. Rather than make fun of the big operators as its ads have done for the last several years, MetroPCS is going to start focusing on its value proposition and the services it offers—declaring to the world what it actually is rather comparing itself with what it’s not. The carrier’s current Wireless for All plans reflect that new strategy, but Keys said Metro hopes to expand it, creating an LTE for All proposition that targets the one key differentiator between the big boys and smaller operators: premium mobile broadband.

“The 4G LTE network has to remain the best deal in town,” he said.
MetroPCS still has plenty of work to do before it can achieve that goal, Keys admitted. It has to expand its LTE network through spectrum acquisition so it can offer the capacity and sheer speeds of its competitors. “With an average of 22 MHz in every market , we understand we need more,” he said.

MetroPCS also needs to secure cheap high-quality LTE smartphones, he said. The ideal price point would be $99 for a high-resolution touchscreen device with a 1.2 GHz application processor and a full day’s battery life. Those are decent specs for an Android phone today, but Keys said the market will match that price point by the second half of 2012.


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