Thousands of iPhones 4S devices are on their way to T-Mobile stores so that representatives can show customers how they work on the wireless provider's reconfigured data network .
That doesn't mean Apple is releasing a T-Mobile iPhone. Rather, the fourth-largest carrier is beefing up its "bring your own device" program, which provides voice and data service for unlocked phones.
T-Mobile, a unit of Deutsche Telekom, says it already has more than a million formerly unlocked Apple smartphones on its network, though it is the last of the big-four carriers not to have a licensing agreement with Apple.
So, as the world awaits the always game-changing release of another iPhone model, T-Mobile wants to add more iPhones via the back door with the lure of unlimited data and a lower monthly plan. Among rivals, only Sprint now offers an unlimited data plan for the iPhone. T-Mobile says its $69.99 unlimited talk, text and data plan is $50 cheaper than AT&T service for the iPhone.
Last month T-Mobile brought back an unlimited data plan that took effect Sept. 5 to better compete with AT&T and Verizon Wireless, who are phasing out unlimited plans.
"Today, we don't sell the iPhone, but we do have something worth selling to people who have one," said Suzanne Lowry, vice president of marketing, in a statement from T-Mobile. "Our message to iPhone customers is simple: bring your unlocked iPhone to T-Mobile and save."
Unless they have been "jailbroken," only phones made for the GSM wireless standard used by AT&T will work on T-Mobile's network. Data speeds won't match the expected iPhone 5, assuming it has LTE capability, on AT&T, which is now running a 4G long-term evolution high-speed network as well as its not-as-speedy HSPA+ network that is also billed as 4G on the iPhone 4S.
T-Mobile says it's beefing up its own HSPA+ network, sometimes referred to as "4G lite," for a faster iPhone data experience.
"We're already starting to turn up 4G HSPA+ service in our 1900 MHz spectrum," said Lowry in her statement. "With sites already live in cities like Seattle, Las Vegas, Washington, DC, and the New York metro area, don't be surprised to hear reports of iPhone 'speed sightings.'
"Our internal tests of unlocked iPhone 4S devices running over 4G (HSPA+) on our 1900 network recorded on average 70 percent faster download speeds than iPhone 4S devices on AT&T's network."
Seeking Low Churn
Given the rabid loyalty of iPhone users, T-Mobile is looking to get a slice of Apple pie any way it can, said analyst Neil Shah of Strategy Analytics.
"Carriers view iPhone users as 'high value, low-churn' customers, and T-Mobile is looking to attract some of these iPhone users to its faster HSPA+ network by offering a comparatively cheaper plan," Shah told us Monday.
"Apple so far hasn't released a T-Mobile version of iPhone due to interoperability issues with the 1700MHz UMTS AWS cellular band." A radio for that band would raise the cost of the device.
T-Mobile's shift of existing spectrum to HSPA+ and future LTE network might make a future official T-Mobile iPhone version possible. But for now, Shah said, "T-Mobile's HSPA+ network in PCS band has limited coverage and won't entice rival networks' iPhone users much."
Posted: 2012-09-12 @ 1:39pm PT
If AT&T doesn't unlock your iPhone so you can switch to T-Mobile, you can use UnlockStreak activations for iTunes, which basically turns iTunes into iPhone unlock software. The UnlockStreak activation is executed through iTunes and does a permanent unlock just like the unlock from AT&T.
Posted: 2012-09-11 @ 10:12am PT
T-Mobile officially sells I-Phones in Germany, so all the non compatibility excuses sound bogus. anyway, how can i obtain an unlocked gsm band i-phone? even a 3 S would be a good choice, a 4 S obviously better