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

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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.