craft MetroPCS expands its LTE network and has a phone available nowWhile all of the headlines today will belong to Verizon and its December 5th launch, you should know that another player in the LTE game made a pretty significant move this morning.

MetroPCS, which is the United States’ 5th largest service provider, has expanded its LTE coverage to San Francisco, a list that already includes 5 other areas in the U.S. including Philadelphia, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and lastly Dallas-Fort Worth.

Today’s expansion will cover about 80% of its territory in the Bay Area and will extend from Santa Rosa all the way down to the southern tip of Santa Clara. If you want to make sure you’re covered, you’ll want to take a look at this map.

So you’re probably wondering how this stacks up next to Verizon’s offering and we’ve got the answers.

First and foremost, MetroPCS actually have a mobile device out that’s LTE compatible. When Verizon rolls out its network, it’s not going to have any handsets available. Instead, they are going to be offering two USB LTE modems. Of course, MetroPCS’ device is the Samsung Craft, which isn’t exactly the HTC Incredible HD but hey, at least it’s something.

Second, and this is probably the most interesting to those looking to get aboard the “4G” train, MetroPCS’s LTE pricing is vastly different from Verizon’s and Sprint’s. In a word, it’s cheaper. While Verizon’s LTE contracts will start at $50 a month for 5GB, MetroPCS’ plan is a non-contract plan that includes unlimited data and text for a mere $60 a month. And if you want to throw Sprint’s plans into the equation, their cheapest WiMax plan is $80.

San Francisco is only one of many metropolitan areas that MetroPCS has in its sights .

The carrier plans on taking its LTE network to Sacramento, Atlanta, Tampa, New York, Orlando, Boston, Jacksonville, and Miami.

So, if you want LTE now, you want it cheap, you want it off-contract, and you don’t care about having amazing hardware, then you might want to take MetroPCS into consideration.