Why Doesn’t MetroPCS offer the iPhone?

T-Mobile isn’t the only major carrier with customers wondering why it doesn’t offer the iPhone.  Prepaid giant MetroPCS is also without the device, and with Virgin Mobile rolling it out  (though no Virgin mobile promo code is available) now, MetroPCS is looking a little awkward.

And, it’s not just Virgin…the other major prepaid providers including Cricket, have cut their deals with Apple. In a recent interview with CNET, MetroPCS President Thomas Keys shared “”We’d love to have the iPhone..”, but admitted that the company did not get serious enough with Apple to start on a deal.  And, like T-Mobile, MetroPCS faces a technology issue.  While the iPhone does work on both GSM and CDMA phones, it does not currently support the specific frequency band that MetroPCS uses in it’s nework.  There’s also the issue of MetroPCS’s high speed technology choice, 4G LTE.   Apple does not have immiediate plans to leverage it, which would limit users to slower 3G download speeds until some future generation of the phone.

Keys also shared that they have some reservations about Apple’s expections on volume.   With handset pricing above $500, it remains to be seen if MetroPCS’s traditionally lower to middle income customers will buy enough of the devices to meet Apple’s expectations.

Other carriers that have signed with Apple have enjoyed the benefits of a growth in customers, and thus far, customers that stay with them because of their early adopter status for the venerable iPhone.   But, those benefits were not without cost. The high prices of the iPhone forced those carriers to heavily subsidize the price of handsets to be able to offer them in the $200 range.

On the bright side for MetroPCS, there’s been excellent initial response to their new $55 plan that features unlimited data.  And, unlike the Cricket and Sprint iPhone offers, the handset costs are quite reasonable at about $150 for an LG Android based phone.