MetroPCS Ends MetroFLASH CDMA Flashing Service

MetroPCS has ended actively offering its MetroFLASH CDMA handset flashing service after being the first US carrier to offer such a service when it was first offered in the carrier’s non-AWS markets beginning in 2008. The carrier has ended the acquisition of licenses for the Houdini flashing service and all dealers are being instructed to cease offering the service in legacy markets, with any and every reference to the service to be eliminated by the end of this month.

When MetroPCS first began offering this service, it was seen as a way for the carrier to attract new customers and to drive activation numbers for dealers, as the carrier’s own handset lineup was not as developed as it is now with smartphones from major manufacturers and the carrier was better known for its lineup of cheap entry level phones. With MetroFLASH, MetroPCS also gave those customers with old CDMA phones incentive to jump from Verizon and Sprint if they were out of contract, but did not want to spend more money on another phone.

However, the MetroFLASH service ended up being so popular that it attracted the ire of other prepaid CDMA service providers such as Virgin Mobile, which took MetroPCS to court and attempted to force the carrier to cease and desist from offering the service on the grounds that MetroPCS was actively committing copyright infringement by flashing Virgin Mobile models for MetroPCS service and doing nothing to address the brand confusion that Virgin Mobile assumed would occur as a result of the flashing service.

In practice, the Houdini flashing service that MetroPCS relied on to flash CDMA handsets was rather rudimentary in its application, as it flashed CDMA phones with new PRLs and messaging center numbers for the bare minimum of compatibility, but did not address the issues that cropped up with the supposed lack of data access, even going as far as offering a disclaimer that stated that the MetroFLASH service did not include data access due to technical limitations, limitations that in reality did not exist and were attributed to laziness on the part of MetroPCS rather than any longstanding data provision issue related to CDMA phones from other carriers.

The introduction of MetroFLASH also heralded the birth of a cottage industry of dedicated hackers and a dev community dedicated to flashing all sorts of CDMA smartphones with full data and messaging support despite caveats given from MetroPCS regarding the lack of data access. In many cases, the flashing community superseded the products offered by Houdini to the point that many third-party dealers would forego strict Houdini use and hire dedicated flashing staff with a better grasp on the MetroFLASH service that could flash nearly every phone with full data and messaging support.

The only real caveat to the service was due to network expansion, as the service was not available in markets which utilized its AWS network for CDMA service and flashed phones could not work on AWS networks due to the lack of the necessary radio hardware, which limited the appeal of the service to the same people that were more interested in hacking and modifying phones for use on MetroPCS.

Ultimately, the longevity of the service which was intended to be a stopgap until it could offer a deeper selection of phones grew into a trump card for the currently struggling carrier, at least until manufacturers started paying more attention to the company, which led to it expanding its handset selection to include smartphones. Now that it has officially ended sales and support for the service in favor of its transition to LTE, the carrier stands as the only CDMA carrier to ever allow a BYOD offering with a flashing service that no other carrier will even look at, let alone bother to respond to competitively.

Humberto Saabedra is the Editor-in-Chief of AnimeNews.bizPhoneNews.com and an occasional columnist for Ani.me. He can also be found musing on things at @AnimeNewsdotbiz

22 responses to “MetroPCS Ends MetroFLASH CDMA Flashing Service”

  1. ChazzMatt

    You need to REWRITE the last sentence. They NO longer have the service.

    “… the carrier stands as the only CDMA carrier to allow a BYOD offering with a flashing service that no other carrier will even look at, let alone bother to respond to competitively.”

  2. ChazzMatt

    Maybe you meant “ever to allow”? Still, the first part of the sentence clashes with the final part of the sentence. You need to clarify, write it better.

  3. Bob McQuade

    I think this has more to do with the fact that the big 4 carriers were pressured into reporting to each other when handsets are on the stolen list. Metro and everyone else are going to have to cooperate down the road or face the bad publicity. As a former Verizon dealer whose store was broken into twice I am very happy to hear that Metro will no longer be encouraging phone theft.

    1. josh

      My virgin mobile service sucks…I have a samsung galaxy s3, I hoped for better service but only recieved further disappointment. My service with metro pcs was so much better. Looks like when this service is up it will be time to toss this phone in the trash and change back to my old phone. What a waste.

  4. MetroPCS Rolls Out $25 Unlimited Voice-and-Messaging Plan in Fight for Survival | PhoneNews.com

    […] Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile. Customers will, however, have to purchase a new device, as MetroPCS just ended their MetroFlash initiative, which would have allowed customers to bring their existing CDMA devices with them to MetroPCS. […]

  5. Stew

    I’d like to know the source of this information. This has been said somany times before. Every time being false

  6. stew

    Backing it up by not doing it that makes no sense at all. You take the money well you can still do it.

  7. Don Zuchowski

    Metro PCS was not the only carrier to flash phone from another carrier. I do recall Cricket Wireless (Leap) and Revol Wireless (Clevelead Unlimited) also take other cdma phones. How do i know…. Well i have a sprint nexus s 4g on revol that was flashed with Houdini software. Now Houdini does offer for some carriers data flashing as well… announced april 12 2012.

  8. stew

    Who ever wrote the this is an idiot. Check your facts “MetroPCS has ended actively offering its MetroFLASH CDMA handset flashing service” Still working fine for all my stores. Another false rumor again for the millionth time. Seriously you make your website look like trash when you post fake news reports. This is like reading the fake newspapers you buy at the cash register at the market. “boy gets abducted by aliens” yup ohh yea! This site is garbage.

  9. ChazzMatt

    Well, Stew, not the end of the month yet. In May, come back and talk to us again.

    Also not acquiring new Houdini licenses doesn’t mean CANCELLING current licenses. Just means none for new stores and as licenses expire they will not be renewed. Sounds like a “process”, and Metro has made the decision now.

    Metro is quashing this particular officially recognized and advertised service. It will no longer be officially recognized and advertised. MetroPCS corporation will no longer endorse this practice. Corporate stores definitely won’t do it any more. If “authorized dealers” do it, you would have to bear the expense and you won’t receive any support from MetroPCS.

    Are your Houdini licenses paid for by MetroPCS? When do they expire? Or when is payment due? How much are they? Is this a cost you are willing to bear yourself?

    Plus, as Metro moves forward to pushing LTE and capping CDMA, “flashed” phones which cannot work on LTE will be 2nd rate phones no matter how well they worked on other carrier’s networks. This is why MetroPCS Corporation is ending this service. If you, as an “authorized dealer” wish to continue flashing phones and you find a way to do it, you are free to do it.MetroPCS corporate stores won’t be doing it and Metro won’t pay the costs for “authorized dealers” to do it.

  10. shane

    SO NOW WE ARE DELETING MY POST….. that goes against your crediability LMAO!!

  11. Christopher Price

    Shane, a comment in this article was removed due to profanity. We reserve the right to delete inflammatory comments, and routinely remove comments which contain profanity.

  12. Geovanni

    Actually they are ending the flashing service ( Houdini ) by the end of this month , as of 12/31/2012 there will be no more metro flash for metro pcs dealers . ( Source: Corporate ) . But that wont stop the flashing of handsets over to metro pcs =]

  13. MR. I'M ALWAYS RIGHT!

    http://www.metropcs.com/metro/houdinisoft/index.jsp

    Metro Pcs website looks like they’r still offering to flash phones.

    Don’t be fooled by misunderstood information that’s all you need to know people go to Metro’s website and see for your self.

  14. Stew

    well Guess you were wrong about that may thing lol “Well, Stew, not the end of the month yet. In May, come back and talk to us again.”

    I love it when people will say anything for attention. You lost all your credibility btw the world ends on the 21st also. pffffff

  15. Netters

    This is bullshit! If you pay for a phone and you owe no money or contract obligations you should be allowed to take that phone to ANY carrier you choose to! It’s your phone, you paid a lot of money for that phone why can’t you have the service YOU choose?! That said, it is wrong for any cell phone service provider to FORCE you into buying THEIR phone just to have their service. I understand if the phone you want to use is associated with a contract that was not fulfilled or an unpaid balance …then sure that phone shouldn’t be allowed to receive service until the obligations associated with it are fullfilled. However, if you paid, for example, $800 for a phone…no contract no unpaid balance….you should be allowed to use said phone with ANY service provider of your choosing! It is wrong to force consumers to purchase provider specific uphones! I’m so angry right now I want to scream!

  16. Netters

    This is bull! If you pay for a phone and you owe no money or contract obligations you should be allowed to take that phone to ANY carrier you choose to! It’s your phone, you paid a lot of money for that phone why can’t you have the service YOU choose?! That said, it is wrong for any cell phone service provider to FORCE you into buying THEIR phone just to have their service. I understand if the phone you want to use is associated with a contract that was not fulfilled or an unpaid balance …then sure that phone shouldn’t be allowed to receive service until the obligations associated with it are fullfilled. However, if you paid, for example, $800 for a phone…no contract no unpaid balance….you should be allowed to use said phone with ANY service provider of your choosing! It is wrong to force consumers to purchase provider specific uphones! I’m so angry right now I want to scream!

  17. Jess

    To the writers, I’m sorry you have to put up with some of these comments. I work in an industry where sometimes it seems like all I deal with are people who just want to shoot the messenger.

    Keep providing information for those of us interested in hearing what you have to say..

  18. stew

    Worthless writing it was off by almost a year. Saying that technology is going to change is a given. Your writing is worthless when none of u r information or sources are worth anything. This guy is a joke for phone news.

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