T-Mobile: We Didn’t Get The iPhone Because Of Our Unique 3G Band


Photo by Scoobyfoo - http://flic.kr/p/36jTkj
Photo by Scoobyfoo - http://flic.kr/p/36jTkj

Apple’s iPhone is now available on AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon in the U.S., but T-Mobile customers are still waiting for the popular smartphone to come to them. According to the company’s CEO, Philipp Humm, the reason the device still hasn’t arrived is T-Mobile’s unique 3G band, which isn’t used by other carriers.

During an interview with All Things D’s Ina Fried at CES in Las Vegas this week, Humm confirmed the reason T-Mobile still doesn’t have the iPhone:

The key reason we didn’t have the iPhone in the past is we are on different band than globally the market was.

T-Mobile uses the 1700/2100 MHz AWS band for its 3G connections, while other carriers use the 850, 900, 1900, and 2100 MHz frequencies. This means that in order to support a 3G connection on T-Mobile, devices must carry a specific 3G UMTS chipset — a chipset that doesn’t yet feature in the iPhone.

Humm remains positive that this will change, however, and that Apple’s smartphone will arrive on T-Mobile at some point. Though he does admit that it’s up to the Cupertino company to make the move. The answer may be for Apple to use Pentaband chipsets, which support all European and U.S. 3G UMTS bands — including T-Mobile’s.

TUAW reports that some devices already use this technology, but only a small few at this time.

  • joewaylo

    That’s no excuse. They have one compatible frequency. 2100 Mhz. And users have been installing iPhone 3G and 3GS on the T-Mobile server unlocked for a few years now. All it takes now is to get Qualcomm to add 1700 and 2100, make it AWS compatible, and add it to T-Mobile.

  • Mike Rathjen

    Every report I’ve ever read says that those who have been using unlocked iPhones on T-Mobile “for a few years now” have also been limited to EDGE (no 3G).

  • volodoscope

    Unique? More like “Stupid” and “non-standard”

  • MacRat

    Blame the US govt for providing AT&T a monopoly on the standard GSM/3G frequencies.

  • MacRat

    Actually, the Qualcomm chip in the iPhone 4S has penta band support.

    Apple choses not to support the 1700MHz frequency.

  • Luis Dominguez

    I would say the real reason was because of the AT&T merger.  Why would Apple make another iPhone when the where just gonna end up with AT&T?  Well, the merger didn’t go through now they need there own phone.  If I were Apple though, I would optimistic to even make a phone compatible for them because Duetch Telecom doesn’t want anything to do with T-mobile USA.

  • Shane Bryson

    One compatible frequency isn’t enough. As a user moves and travels, a phone rotates frequencies to the strongest one compatible with the handset and network. It may take 3 frequencies for a user to have signal in one city. As for those unlocked T-Mobile iPhones, they don’t have 3G data connections, they are limited to EDGE. Research, young grasshopper, research.

  • Shane Bryson

    Completely incorrect.

  • MacRat

    The Qualcomm chip in the iPhone is the MDM6600.

    You can look up it’s penta band frequency support for yourself.