It has been a while since T-Mobile acquired MetroPCS, and so far the merger has been going well. T-Mobile has still been making waves in the media, and fast becoming a carrier to compete with AT&T and Verizon. We even did a story earlier that showed a detailed timeline focused on how T-Mobile is changing the mobile industry. Now, we also know that T-Mobile will soon start the end of MetroPCS, city by city. T-Mobile was talking with analysts earlier on Tuesday, where the topics of discussion were not only fourth quarter results. In addition, T-Mobile decided to throw out where they stand in the progression of the many projects they have going on at the moment. Those projects included the growth of the 4G LTE network, as well as the merging process with MetroPCS. Lets start with MetroPCS and what T-Mobile plans to do with them.
MetroPCS currently runs on a CDMA network which is a problem for T-Mobile since they are a GSM network based company. When T-Mobile finalized the deal, they already had their minds made up, that one project would be to redesign the network. The reason they would want to do that, is to improve their own network. First, they would have to change Metro's CDMA network to a GSM network, this would seem to be difficult since there are so many users currently on Metro. Those users currently on Metro, would end up with devices that weren't working anymore if T-Mobile just changed the network. Instead, T-Mobile would have to try to ease consumers into the change, and so far, they are ahead of schedule. T-Mobile has successfully migrated 3.5 million Metro users to T-Mobile ready devices. That means that 40% of Metro consumers are using a device that can easily be switched to GSM from CDMA networks. All of this is going faster than T-Mobile anticipated it would, which to them is a great thing. So it is time according to T-Mobile, to move forward with the plans.
Since this transition is going easier for T-Mobile than they thought, the next step is to start shutting down those CDMA networks, and re-frame the towers to use GSM networks. By the end of the year, T-Mobile will have shut down Metro service in Boston, Philadelphia and Las Vegas. The reason this is easy, is if Metro users are already using T-Mobile ready devices, their service will not be interrupted. Instead, their devices will just pick up a signal from T-Mobiles towers that already exist in their area. However if the Metro user has not swapped out their handset for a GSM ready device, their service will be migrated through other options. Still, T-Mobile wants the change in devices, so they will get more aggressive in the promotional aspect of the device swap out.
The network shuffle that will be going on behind the scenes will not affect what consumers see on signs and in plans. Metro PCS will still be an option, and T-Mobile will still have their own pre-paid plans as well. If you may wonder why own a prepaid brand and then market your own pre paid service as well, the answer is simple. T-Mobile's prepaid service is a bit more expensive than Metro, depending on the area. The plus side to that is T-Mobile has a bigger selection of devices. Along with the expansion of T-Mobile's GSM network, they are expanding their 4G LTE as well. According to Chief Technology Officer, Neville Ray, T-Mobile has plans to grow their coverage forecast from 225 million possible users, to 250 million possible users. Ray also pointed out that they have already made available LTE in 43 out of the 50 top markets in the US.