The T-Mobile and MetroPCS merger likely won’t close until early 2013, but the companies have a plan for how the networks will work together when the deal does close.
According to PCMag, next year after the deal closes, MetroPCS will start to convert its CDMA network into a 4G LTE network. During the process, the prepaid carrier will stop selling CDMA phones, and presumably switch to T-Mobile compliant HSPA phones that use the MetroPCS and T-Mobile 4G LTE networks.
As MetroPCS converts its network, T-Mobile will start to build its own 4G LTE network as it planned before the merger. When T-Mobile’s network rolls out, MetroPCS smartphones will be able to authenticate on the network. We don’t know when the phones will use which network, only that they will work with both.
T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network will use the same spectrum as the MetroPCS network, so the switch will likely be an easy one. T-Mobile plans to cover “90 percent of the top 25 markets” with 4G LTE by the end of 2013.
In 2014 the two networks will begin to merge which will make the resulting 4G LTE network faster. While this happens existing MetroPCS phones will use either CDMA or Voice over LTE (VoLTE) for voice calls, and 4G LTE for data.
By 2015, all of MetroPCS’ existing network will switch over to T-Mobile 4G LTE which will effectively complete the transition. That means existing MetroPCS users will have about three years to switch to a new T-Mobile phone, which doesn’t seem so bad.
There is still a chance that Sprint will swoop in and take MetroPCS for its own, but it’s nice to know T-Mobile and MetroPCS already have a relatively smooth roadmap for the merger.