US prepaid mobile operator MetroPCS says it is planning to rollout an LTE network in the second half of next year, potentially making it one of the first operators in the world to deploy the next generation mobile technology. “It is our desire to deploy LTE in 2010, probably the latter half,” Tom Keys, MetroPCS’ chief operating officer, told Gigaom in an interview. He added that the company would support the deployment via the launch of its first smartphone in the second or third quarter of the year, but gave no indication of an LTE-related data card offering. MetroPCS first hinted it was looking at LTE in August last year. 

The operator currently runs CDMA networks in 14 of the top 25 largest metropolitan areas in the US, and Keys says the smaller footprint will allow it to rollout LTE quicker than many of its larger rivals. A future move to LTE follows a similar decision by rival US CDMA operator, Verizon Wireless, which is tipped to begin LTE trials later this year. International CDMA operators such as China Telecom, Telus and Bell in Canada, and Japan’s KDDI have also been linked with a similar strategy.