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MetroPCS Offers Its First BlackBerry

Dallas — Prepaid carrier MetroPCS is launching its first BlackBerry, the Curve 8330 smartphone, this week in 10 markets.

MetroPCS is bundling it with two unlimited voice and data plans, making it the first U.S. wireless carrier to offer an unlimited-use, no-contract, flat-rate plan for voice and BlackBerry services at prices as low as $50/month, the company contends.

Because the handset is unsubsidized, it retails for $449.

The 800/1,900MHz CDMA2000 1X EV-DO handset will be available first in Best Buy locations in the first 10 markets, followed by select MetroPCS-authorized dealers and company-owned retail locations by the end of March. The markets are Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville, Fla.; Atlanta; Detroit; Dallas; and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif.

The device is not available in a handful of markets where the carrier has launched service in the 1.7/2.1GHz AWS (Advanced Wireless Services) band, which the carrier is using to expand its footprint.

To go with the devices, equipped with a full QWERTY keyboard, MetroPCS introduced two unlimited rate plans. A $50 personal rate plan offers flat rate, unlimited talk, text, Web browsing, MMS and BlackBerry email access. For another $10 per month, enterprise users get the same features on BlackBerry Enterprise Server. MetroPCS rate plans for non-smartphones range from $30 to $50 per month.

MetroPCS boasts about 5.4 million subscribers in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Francisco, Sarasota and Tampa metropolitan areas. The carrier said it owns or has access to licenses covering a population of about 149 million people in the largest metro areas.