T-Mobile is currently the only big carrier in the US that doesn’t sell Apple’s iPhones. That has to hurt. Don’t worry, though, for the magenta carrier seems pretty intent on eventually offering the best selling smartphone in the world. Even to a point where it looks like it’s pretty desperate to get Apple’s attention.
So far, the main hurdle stifling T-Mobile’s plans to sell the iPhone has been its reliance on the non-standard 1700 MHz band for 3G service. No iPhone has ever been compatible with that band, and Apple doesn’t seem to be willing to add such compatibility to its devices in the future (which is rather strange, since penta-band 3G/HSPA chips are very widespread these days). Or at least it hasn’t just yet.
So what is T-Mobile to do? Well, it’s been adding capacity in the 1900 MHz band in several cities across the US, a band that is compatible with existing iPhones. That coverage may soon expand very fast across the country, since T-Mobile has so far been a lot more focused on its HSPA network than investing in LTE like all the other carriers. LTE will come to T-Mobile, but not sooner than next year.
However, an iPhone announcement may arrive as soon as next week, according to some analysts quoted by Fortune. On December 6 and 7, T-Mobile will hold its ‘Analysts Day’, which is when official word about the iPhone coming to the carrier may drop. “Speculation is heightening” on the matter, apparently.
A deal with the fourth largest carrier in the US would mean that Apple will have access to 98% of the United States’ contract market, and about 75% of the total number of mobile customers. In order to grow sales of its mobile devices, Apple has gradually but steadily increased the number of carriers on which they’re offered over the years, so it makes sense to apply that logic to the US now too. In many countries across the world, iPhones are already available on all the big carriers.
And obviously this would benefit T-Mobile, as surely many customers left the network in recent times in order to be able to buy subsidized iPhones. However, whether or not this is anything more than analysts jumping to conclusions way too soon remains to be seen. Thankfully, we’re only a week or so away from T-Mobile’s event, and then we’ll know for sure.