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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

July 25, 2013 at 11:18 AM

MetroPCS brings $40 4G to Seattle, Tacoma, undercuts T-Mobile

Apparently MetroPCS isn’t going to fade away quietly after being acquired by T-Mobile.

Today MetroPCS is announcing a big expansion of its service to 15 new territories, including its debut in T-Mobile’s backyard in the Seattle and Tacoma markets.

The move doubles the national reach of MetroPCS, which is now sharing T-Mobiles 4G network. Bellevue-based T-Mobile completed its acquisition of Dallas-based MetroPCS in May.

“This is the power of this merger,” said Mike Sievert, T-Mobile’s chief marketing officer.

T-Mobile’s known for budget plans but MetroPCS undercuts T-Mobile’s offerings by at least $10 per month.

MetroPCS plans start at $40 per month for unlimited talk, text and mobile data access. At that price the first 500 megabytes of data are delivered at full 4G speed, before they throttle down. It’s a no-contract plan, meaning you can cancel anytime.

T-Mobile offers the same plan for $50 per month.

MetroPCS also offers a $50 per month “unlimited” plan with 2.5 gigabytes per month of high-speed data and a $60 plan with unlimited 4G. Each of those is $10 less than comparable tiers from T-Mobile.

The MetroPCS prices also include taxes and fees, which is a significant savings in areas like Washington where wireless service is appallingly taxed at nearly 25 percent.

“We’ve been beating our no-contract competitors hands-down for value, and now, with the strength of the T-Mobile 4G network
behind us, that lead is only going to grow,” Tom Keys, MetroPCS chief operating officer and executive vice president, said in the release.

Still, T-Mobile continues to offer one cheaper option for 4G service – it’s $30 per month plan offered through Wal-Mart – but it only includes 100 minutes of talk time per month.

Keys said MetroPCS is opening up dozens of new stores in the Seattle area, from Everett to Lakewood. So far 26 are open and the company expects to have around 40 open by Sept. 1. It’s hiring 200 to 250 people for the stores.

T-Mobile customers can switch to MetroPCS but the transaction will have to take place in a MetroPCS store. T-Mobile stores won’t provide service to MetroPCS customers.

What’s the difference between the brands?

“T-Mobile is focused on a little bit more of an up-market, prime credit customer,” Sievert said.

The T-Mobile brand is competing with offerings from AT&T and Sprint, he said, and provides family plans, multi-line discounts and credit for phone purchases.

MetroPCS customers tend to pay as they go, with more than 60 percent of customers paying their monthly bills at stores with cash, Keys said.

MetroPCS offers premium phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 but not the iPhone, which T-Mobile began carrying in April after years of pleading with Apple.

MetroPCS also announced that it’s adding a Windows phone to its lineup, the Nokia Lumia 521 that costs around $150 unlocked.

Comments | Topics: 4G, MetroPCS, Phones


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