As it has said many times before, T-Mobile is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the iPhone on its network. The carrier has been largely unable to attract unlocked iPhone owners due to the fact that frequency incompatibilities make it impossible to use 3G data speeds on T-Mobile’s 1700 MHz AWS band. T-Mobile started transitioning part of its spectrum over to the iPhone-friendly 1900 MHz band last year, and scattered reports have said that a small number of iPhone users can now use 3G speeds in certain areas of the United States.
Not only is T-Mobile saying that its 3G network will be ready for the iPhone by Q4 of this year, but it also plans to offer HSPA+ 4G speeds on an iPhone-friendly frequency.
T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray recently said that the carrier is freeing up spectrum to support iPhone users, despite the fact that Apple is still not an official partner with the network. Last summer T-Mobile claimed that it had over 1 million unlocked iPhones running on its 2G network. Now that AT&T will unlock an out-of-contract iPhone for free, more customers will be in the position to consider other GSM alternatives, like T-Mobile, in the coming months. The Verizon iPhone is CDMA-only and can not run on T-Mobile.
Apple added LTE networking in the third-gen iPad, and T-Mobile also plans on rolling out LTE with Sony Ericsson and Nokia networks in 2013. The next iPhone is widely expected to come with LTE speeds later this year, so T-Mobile’s network probably won’t be ready in time. The carrier does hope to offer faux-4G speeds in the form of HSPA+ to existing iPhone owners, however. It will be interesting to see if T-Mobile attempts to market to unlocked iPhone owners when its network is ready at the end of 2012.
AT&T had planned to acquire to buy T-Mobile, but the merger fell through in December of last year due to antitrust concerns from the Federal Communications Commission and U.S. Department of Justice. Following the addition of Sprint with the iPhone 4S last October, T-Mobile is the last major carrier in the U.S. to not offer the iPhone.