MetroPCS (s PCS) said today it will launch the BlackBerry Curve 8330 (not Om’s latest handset crush) in several markets, including Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento, with advance pay plans that range from $30 to $60 a month. The BlackBerry (s RIMM) is the carrier’s first smart phone.
Last week, MetroPCS COO Tom Keys told us he expected the prepaid carrier to launch a BlackBerry by the second or third quarter of the year. He also told us the carrier would hopefully deploy a Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G wireless network in 2010. Since we’re still on the tail end of the first quarter, it appears they are early with the phone; we can only hope they beat their timing on LTE too.
As data becomes a must-have service on mobile phones, even the regional carriers are adding these services. With Sprint’s (s S) $50 unlimited talk and data plan on its Boost subsidiary, Leap Wireless (s LEAP) offering data cards and MetroPCS pushing a smartphone at cheap prices, the other carriers might feel some pricing pressure. However, I doubt they’ll make rapid reductions in data costs unless customers start defecting in large numbers. No carrier wants to turn the wireless golden goose into just another dumb pipe.