Ina Fried

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T-Mobile CEO: iPhone on MetroPCS Possible, but Not Imminent

With the MetroPCS acquisition closing on Wednesday, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said his company is ready to pounce.

“Don’t be confused,” Legere told AllThingsD. “We’re not running two companies. We are clearly going to be one integrated company that uses two brands to go to market.”

As for the iPhone coming to MetroPCS, Legere said it’s a possibility, but not a foregone conclusion.

“The answer to that is not ‘No,'” Legere said, but added, “It’s not imminent; I think that’s safe to say.”

There are two big factors. One is how T-Mobile decides it wants to position the two brands and manage its marketing.

“It’s also something that involves Apple,” Legere said, but added that “we’ve started those dialogues with our partners.”

Beyond the iPhone, though, T-Mobile plans to move quickly to introduce new devices as early as next month that bear the MetroPCS brand but run on T-Mobile’s network.

Even as it maintains the MetroPCS brand, T-Mobile wants to transition customers quickly to T-Mobile’s network. That’s critical to minimizing the time spent operating incompatible networks and to allowing T-Mobile more efficient use of its spectrum.

“This is about customer migration, not network integration,” Legere said, reiterating a point CTO Neville Ray made in an interview shortly after the deal was announced last October.

Offering MetroPCS handsets on the T-Mobile network also allows that brand to move into new cities. Legere said the company is working through a double-digit list of cities and plans to aggressively target new markets this year, though he didn’t say whether the first new cities would come in the second or third quarter.

“We’re deciding those cities this week,” Legere said. “We’re going to move fast and big.”

Meanwhile, Legere also said that T-Mobile is making good progress on its “uncarrier” approach that began last month, noting that both its prepaid and postpaid businesses are ahead of expectations, though he didn’t give specifics. He also said the company’s iPhone sales have exceeded expectations, though again he declined to give hard numbers.

Legere did say the company is on track for its goal of shifting from losing postpaid customers to gaining customers at some point this year and being positive for the full 2014.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik