US prepaid operator MetroPCS yesterday announced it has selected Ericsson and Samsung as vendors for the launch of its LTE network in the second half of next year. Ericsson will be providing network infrastructure (radio access and core) while Samsung will be the provider of its initial LTE handset device. “We anticipate to begin offering our 4G LTE services and a dual-mode LTE/CDMA smartphone in our major metropolitan markets in late 2010,” commented Roger D. Linquist, president, CEO and chairman of the board of MetroPCS, in a statement. The statement talked up LTE’s potential to offer “a traditional wireline Internet experience directly on [a] handset.”

MetroPCS is the sixth-largest mobile operator in the US, with 6.3 million connections and a 2.3 percent market share (according to Wireless Intelligence). As an existing CDMA operator, the move to LTE technology mirrors that of rival Verizon Wireless, which itself plans to have LTE networks running in 20-30 markets in the second half of 2010, with nationwide buildout complete by early 2014. Both MetroPCS and Verizon are expected to be one of the first operators worldwide to commercially deploy the next-generation mobile technology. The MetroPCS deal is another major LTE boost to Ericsson and Samsung, who have already secured similar contracts at Verizon.