Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Metro leapfrogs 3G to LTE

Dow Jones, PC Mag and others report that CDMA discount carrier MetroPCS is the first US carrier to offer LTE. (That effectively means 2nd for 4G, after Sprint’s WiMax, and ahead of Verizon’s planned LTE launch before the end of the year.)

It launched the service in Las Vegas, but plans 3 other cities by the end of the year.

PC Mag says that the new Samsung Craft is “the world’s first LTE phone,” a dual 2G/4G phone. DJ notes that Samsung supplied the LTE infrastructure for Las Vegas, as well.

This is a rare example in the cellphone industry of “the last shall be first.” Metro skipped 3G altogether, saving a significant investment. Also, roaming for 3G in the US seems to be a lot less common than for 1G or 2G, so the company doesn’t lose anything by not having 3G hardware.

Normally, companies that are low-cost providers don’t lead technological innovation — it’s contradictory to their basis of competitive advantage.

In this case, MetroPCS hopes to gain cost savings by migrating voice off onto LTE-enabled VoIP.

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