T-Mobile may have been dealt a setback when regulators forced AT&T to scuttle its proposed acquisition of the company, but judging from its announcements today, the company is clearly still very much in the wireless game.
The country’s fourth-largest carrier revealed a plan to upgrade its network to make it more iPhone-friendly, as well as a longer-term project to deploy high-speed LTE connectivity.
When AT&T withdrew its bid for T-Mobile, it had to pay Deustche Telekom — T-Mobile’s parent — a hefty sum of $4 billion in cash and assets, one of those assets being about $1 billion worth of wireless spectrum. Now T-Mobile has a plan to use it: The carrier plans to “refarm” some of its network frequencies, which will let iPhones run at 3G speeds. T-Mobile said it expects this to happen in “a large number of markets” by the end of the year.
There are at least one million unlocked iPhones running on T-Mobile, according to reports, but they’re currently limited to 2G, or the same connection speed that was on the first iPhone in 2007. The spectrum shift will allow other phones to run on T-Mobile as well — essentially any phone that uses the 1900MHz band to connect to HSPA+ networks.
That also means that, should T-Mobile decide to make a Sprint-like deal with Apple to start selling the iPhone directly, its network will be ready. Apple is widely expected to release its next iPhone in the fall, so this opens up the possibility of T-Mobile becoming a carrier partner for that launch.
Besides courting unlocked iPhones, T-Mobile also detailed its plans for LTE. The carrier says it’s going to begin the “modernization” of its network this year, making it possible to deploy a nationwide LTE network sometime in 2013.
When that happens, T-Mobile may have an edge over the other carriers, since its implementation will actually be “LTE-Advanced,” a wireless technology that can achieve speeds even faster than the current flavors of LTE. However, its real-world performance will depend heavily on how T-Mobile builds the network, and how much spectrum the company dedicates to it. Also, the other carriers may deploy LTE-Advanced, too.
What do you think of T-Mobile’s plans? Does the fact that its network will soon be more iPhone-friendly mean much to you? What about LTE? Share your thoughts in the comments.