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Only five percent of MetroPCS customers use LTE, $99 smartphones hoped to boost adoption

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MetroPCS' Keith Terreri has revealed in an investor conference that only five percent of its customers use its LTE network, and has laid out the company's plans to improve this figure.


Just over five percent of MetroPCS customers use its LTE network, the company's VP Finance and Treasurer Keith Terreri told a conference yesterday, with 500,000 of its 9.34 million customers using 4G handsets. He also said that the majority of these customers are on its $50 and $60 plans — hardly surprising since the cheapest $40 per month plan that was brought back last month only offers 100MB of multimedia access. Although five percent might seem low, it matches up with numbers released by Verizon last month, despite the fact that MetroPCS' LTE is slower than AT&T or Verizon's. The company also hopes to increase this adoption with the introduction of $99 - $149 LTE smartphones later this year, working with five manufacturers to produce new handsets.

Terreri also revealed that MetroPCS is currently holding between $1 billion and $1.5 billion to spend on spectrum, either looking to buy capacity from Dish, Verizon, or Clearwire, or using the wholesaler's forthcoming TD-LTE network to reinforce its own infrastructure. This is an aggressive investment for a relatively small network, though Terreri acknowledged that "Outside of our markets, we're going to need partners, particularly from a 4G perspective, we're going to need roaming." With ambitions to launch Voice over LTE (VoLTE) services later this year, this could become even more crucial.