T-Mobile expands MetroPCS’s prepaid reach into 15 new markets

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MetroPCS’s network may be going away, but T-Mobile to is keeping its promise to not only maintain MetroPCS’s brand and service plans, but also expand them to new parts of the country. On Thursday, T-Mobile said Metro is setting up shop in 15 regions where its never offered service before.

Instead of relying on Metro’s CDMA systems, customers in these new markets will ride entirely over T-Mobile’s GSM, HSPA+ and LTE networks. Basically, Metro is becoming a prepaid arm for the newly minted T-Mobile US (though it still offers prepaid under the T-Mobile brand), much like Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile serve as Sprint’s prepaid vehicles.

The expansion doubles Metro’s presence across the U.S. to 30 markets, though several of these new burghs aren’t quite the metropolises like New York and San Francisco Metro tends to focus on. Those cities are: Baltimore, Md.; Birmingham, Ala.; Cleveland-Toledo and Sandusky-Akron, Ohio; Corpus Christi, Houston, San Antonio-Austin and the Rio Grande Valley, Texas; Fresno and San Diego, Calif., Memphis, Tenn.; New Orleans, La.; Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.; Tallahassee, Fla.; and Washington, D.C.

Lumia 521T-Mobile only took over the reins of MetroPCS in May, but it’s moving quickly to merge Metro’s operations into its own. It has every reason to do so since the faster it turns Metro into a GSM carrier, the faster it can use its spectrum for its LTE and HSPA+ network rollout. T-Mobile has already shut down Metro networks in some markets refarming their frequencies for LTE.

But T-Mobile still has some more integration work to do. While Metro will only sell GSM devices in these new cities, it’s still offering CDMA devices to new customers in its original markets, gradually introducing GSM devices into its handset portfolio. T-Mobile is now letting customers bring any T-Mobile-supported device to a Metro plan. Starting Monday, T-Mobile will start selling the LG Optimus F3 through all Metro retail channels, making it the first GSM device available to all MetroPCS customers.

MetroPCS is also getting its first Windows Phone 8 device, the Lumia 521. Like the Optimus, the Lumia is a GSM/HSPA+/LTE device, though it won’t be available in all Metro markets at launch.

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