MetroPCS is gearing up to be 2007's largest IPO to date. The wireless-phone service provider announced intentions to sell 50 million shares for $19 to $21 apiece. If all goes well, the offering will raise roughly $1 billion, higher even than the $600 million that Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) IPO raised in early March.

The company itself will sell 37.5 million shares, in hopes of netting $713.3 million. The rest of the shares will be sold by a long list of existing stockholders, many of them venture funds and individuals.

Like competitor Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP), MetroPCS is one of the United States' many regional wireless carriers. The company offers service in several markets already, including Miami and San Francisco, but it needs more funds to build out its network in newly licensed markets such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Boston. MetroPCS recently took on significant debt to pay roughly $1.4 billion for licenses in several new major markets.

MetroPCS offers unlimited-talk plans without requiring customer contracts. These regional plans have proved very popular with wireless users, stealing many customers away from bigger national rivals such as AT&T's (NYSE:T) Cingular, Verizon Wireless (a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE:VOD)), and Deutsche Telekom's (NYSE:DT) T-Mobile. MetroPCS has enjoyed fantastic subscriber growth -- the company counted 2.9 million customers at the end of 2006, representing a 53% yearly increase. By the end of March 2007, subscriber counts had risen to 3.4 million.

MetroPCS will likely get a warm reception from Wall Street. Leap, which grew revenue 24% last year, has shown that flat-rate pricing strategies translate into high growth. Investors have reacted to Leap's growth with open arms, sending the company's shares up more than 59% in the last year alone.

That said, top-line growth must be met with profitable operations to keep debt from spiraling upward. With $2.6 billion of long-term debt on the books, MetroPCS can't afford to strap on much more debt anytime soon. If it continues to grow operating cash flow as it has, though, it may not have to.

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Fool contributor Dave Mock gets retro in the metro -- the O.C., you know. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Vodafone is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Dave is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.