MetroPCS’s upcoming expansion to New York and Boston will change the prepaid cellphone provider from a regional carrier to one that can compete more with national companies like Verizon and AT&T.
MetroPCS CEO Roger Linquist said the company will be building its New York City network — including the five boroughs as well as parts of New Jersey and upstate New York — throughout 2009. MetroPCS ultimately intends to connect that area with Boston and Philadelphia, where it already has cellphone coverage.
Until recently, the company has focused on areas such as Greater Dallas and parts of California and Florida, and charged roaming fees when customers travel outside their home areas. It has a deal with regional carrier Leap Wireless that lets their customers avoid the fees in each other’s coverage areas. Creating a bigger coverage area will attract more roaming subscribers, Linquist said. “Having a wider, broader footprint across the nation is attractive.”
MetroPCS’s prepaid plans, which tend to be less expensive than postpaid offerings by bigger carriers, are appealing to cost-conscious consumers. In 2008 it gained 520,000 net new subscribers, ending the year with 5.4 million. AT&T added four times as many wireless subscribers in its fourth quarter, but its customer base is more than 14 times the size of MetroPCS’s. (info from The Wall Street Journal)