By PETER SVENSSON, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — MetroPCS, a cellphone company that targets low-income urban households, is cutting the price on its unlimited data service, going against the flow of the biggest phone companies.
People will be able to sign up for unlimited data, calls and texting for $55 per month, the company said Tuesday. It's a limited-time offer, but you keep the rate if you sign up now.
MetroPCS, the fifth-largest wireless provider, with 9.3 million subscribers, had been offering unlimited data for $70 per month and a plan with 2.5 gigabytes of data for $50 per month. It slows down data service once subscribers hit that limit.
The two largest cellphone companies, AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless, have stopped signing up customers on unlimited-data plans and are coaxing those who have them to move to limited-data plans.
MetroPCS Communications Inc. has just activated a new fourth-generation, or "4G" data network, leaving it with some spare capacity.
"We're very mindful of what capacity we have in every city — the bandwidth — and we wouldn't put something out there we couldn't handle," said Tom Keys, MetroPCS' chief operating officer, in an interview.
However, the speeds it offers are well below those of AT&T and Verizon. They cite average download speeds of 5 to 12 megabits per second, while MetroPCS provides 3 to 5 megabits. As a low-cost operator, it doesn't have as much space on the airwaves as the bigger companies, which limits speeds.
Sprint Nextel Corp., the No. 3 carrier, also provides unlimited data service. T-Mobile USA, the No. 4, throttles speeds when a subscriber reaches a monthly limit.
Shares of MetroPCS, which is based in Dallas, rose 15 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $10.06 in midday trading Tuesday.