MetroPCS took a key step forward Tuesday in its plan to deploy fourth-generation (4G) wireless broadband services as it awarded contracts to Ericsson and Samsung to provide network infrastructure and handsets that will utilize long term evolution (LTE) technology. Like its much larger rival Verizon Wireless, MetroPCS—a provider of low-rate, pre-paid wireless services throughout the southeast and Midwest and to major markets along the East and West coasts—intends to roll out LTE network services next year in major metropolitan areas that would compete against WiMax wireless broadband services provided by Clearwire. Given the size of MetroPCS in relation to industry leaders Verizon and AT&T, analysts have described the company’s plan as ambitious. Swedish equipment giant Ericsson is slated to provide LTE network infrastructure and Samsung would develop LTE smart phones that would enable subscribers to surf the Internet, watch videos and perform other advanced functions at potential download speeds of 100 Mbps. The dual-mode Samsung handsets would also permit subscribers to access MetroPCS’s existing CDMA network in areas that lack LTE coverage. As a company press release boasted that MetroPCS has “successfully encouraged customers to cut the cord on their landline phones and enjoy wireless mobility with their unlimited, flat-rate, no signed contract plans,” MetroPCS President Roger Linquist declared, “as the Internet goes mobile, we are excited to be at the forefront of this wireless evolution with the building out of our 4G broadband data services.”