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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012

Metro PCS to be absorbed into T-Mobile?

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By Clark Howard


Another cell company is getting ready to bite the dust, but I don't necessarily think it will be a bad deal for consumers.

For years, the most innovative player in the flat rate world was a scrappy competitor out of Dallas called Metro PCS.

Metro PCS had steadily grown, but they reached the point in the last year and a half where they started ailing. Key to their decline was the industry migration from feature phones to smart phones where data was king, not talking and texting.

Metro PCS was set up with unlimited calling and texting in mind. They really pioneered unlimited calling at cheap prices. They were also among the first to give away texting without charging a separate fee for it -- even though there's practically no cost to the provider.

Now comes word that Metro PCS may be absorbed into T-Mobile, which itself is short of data capacity. So they'll combine data networks and possibly become a robust low-cost competitor to AT&T and Verizon.

Mergers can, as we know, be messy. Just look at the airlines. But if this gets pulled off, this could be great for consumers. We could have an ultra-discounter joining forces with T-Mobile to become the big footprint national discounter for nationwide cell service.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for a great deal on an iPhone 5 right now, I have a couple options for you.

Cricket will sell you an unsubsidized iPhone 5 for $499 instead of the $199 charged by the bigs. The cost of monthly service is $55. For that price, you get unlimited calling, unlimited texting, and 2.5 GB of data, all with no contract. So you have a higher cost upfront for the phone that's overcome by cheaper monthly service.

Straight Talk also has a fancy Galaxy S for $349 with unlimited service for $45 a month. That's a fraction of what the bigs charge and it's no contract. Best of all, it is run behind the scenes on the Verizon network at half the cost of actual Verizon service!

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