MetroPCS Wants to Deploy LTE in 2010

Prepaid phone company MetroPCS (s PCS) says it hopes to deploy LTE, the next-generation wireless standard, beginning in 2010, according to Tom Keys, chief operating officer of the company. Keys spoke with me at the MetroPCS headquarters today in Richardson, Texas. While he couldn’t lay out a definite time frame for the deployment, he said, “It is our desire to deploy LTE in 2010, probably the latter half.”

The company, which operates a CDMA network on AWS and PCS spectrum holdings, is in 14 markets, which is one of the reasons Keys expects the carrier will be able to roll out the network quickly. “We’re nimble,” he said. Company executives affirmed MetroPCS’s LTE plans on its earnings call last week, but didn’t offer up any details as to timing.

The news of such a rapid LTE deployment is a bit odd coming from a carrier that currently doesn’t have a smartphone on offer to customers, but Keys said a phone from a “Canadian smartphone maker” will be coming in the second or third quarter of the year. Currently MetroPCS doesn’t have a data card offering, and Keys wasn’t willing to commit to more details or a time frame for a data card strategy tied to LTE. For now, the company’s focus will be on the handsets, he said. Looks like Verizon (s vz) might not be the first LTE network in the U.S. for long.