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MetroPCS Adds 197,000 Subsribers in Q4 2011, Will Launch VoLTE in 2012

Prepaid operator MetroPCS announced its quarterly and year end financial results yesterday. Highlights include: 

  • Quarterly net subscriber additions of 197 thousand, a 15% increase 
  • Quarterly revenues of $1.2 billion, up 16% over the fourth quarter of 2010 
  • Fourth quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA)  of $362 million, up 15% over the fourth quarter of 2010 and the highest in Company history 
  • Full year net subscriber additions of 1.2 million, a 15% increase in subscriber base and the sixth consecutive year of over 1 million net subscriber additions 
  • Annual revenue of $4.8 billion, up 19% over 2010
  • Annual EBITDA of $1.3 billion, up 13% over 2010, and the highest in Company history

Metro PCS finished the year with 9.3 million total subscribers, which makes it the third largest prepaid operator (after America Movil (Tracfone, Net10, Straight Talk) and Sprint. It is also the fifth largest non-MVNO in total subscribers after Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Although the results were good they weren't completely rosy. Subscriber growth slowed significantly, dropping from 23% in 2010 to 15% in 2011. This is not surprising as the past year has seen increased competition from Verizon, Straight Talk, AT&T, PagePlus and T-Mobile in the prepaid unlimited monthly area that MetroPCS specializes in.

During the companies Q4 2011 earnings conference call to investors and analysts, Metro PCS Chairman and CEO Roger Linquist announced that in 2012, Metro would deploy LTE 4G to all markets and introduce affordable LTE handsets under a program he called  "LTE Service for All".

Linquist also announced that the carrier's (and likely the industry's) first VoLTE (Voice over LTE) devices would debut in 2012.  This is significant for MetroPCS as it will increase network capacity, which is necessary for continued growth. Current LTE handsets use 2.5G or 3G channels for voice. Using VoLTE will allow the carrier to use some of the spectrum currently dedicated to 2.5G and 3G for more efficient LTE, increasing network capacity.

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