These smartphones will likely have a large screen and a high-end mobile browser in order to better take advantage of the download speeds Long Term Evolution offers. The companies have not given a timetable for the release of the 4G-capable smartphones, but they would likely launch with the carrier's LTE deployment that's schedule for late 2010 or early 2011.
The move is somewhat of a departure for MetroPCS, which is known for its prepaid services that offer unlimited voice and text messages without a contract. The company primarily offers a slate of entry-level handsets, and it just recently got its first smartphone with the release of the BlackBerry Curve 8330.
The carrier is looking to invest in LTE networks to diversify its offerings, as it would potentially be able to provide prepaid mobile broadband, as well as sophisticated smartphones at a low monthly price.
"Quite frankly, 4G represents a great opportunity for us because we see that as a capacity expansion; higher data rates imply capacity expansion, not just combining speed and download capability," Roger Lindquist, CEO of MetroPCS, said during a conference call last year.
Verizon Wireless also is making a big push to roll out LTE networks within the next two years. Verizon's adoption rate will be a better indicator of the success of LTE, as it has more than 80 million subscribers, compared with about 6 million for MetroPCS.
While companies like AT&T, Verizon, and MetroPCS are betting on LTE, there's a growing battle over what will be the primary technology for next-generation mobile broadband. Companies like Sprint Nextel, Intel, Google, and various cable companies have invested in WiMax as the standard for 4G networks.
LTE vs. WiMax won't be the typical winner-take-all showdown. Learn what each brings to the race (registration required).