T-Mobile planning network compatibility with Apple's iPhone by end of year
T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray made comments during a dinner event on Monday that T-Mobile will use 1900MHz spectrum for its upgraded network that would allow iPhone users access to 4G speeds, as noted by All Things D.
The company also announced its plans in a press release on Monday.
"As part of the company's network modernization effort, T-Mobile also plans to launch 4G HSPA+ service in the 1900 MHz band in a large number of markets by the end of the year," the statement read. "Rolling out 4G HSPA+ services in the 1900 MHz band will also provide customers with the ability to use a broader range of devices, including the iPhone, on T-Mobile's 4G network."
The carrier recently obtained much-needed spectrum from AT&T as part of the breakup fee of an attempted merger between the two companies.
Though T-Mobile is largely focusing on upgrading to an LTE network, the company has recommitted some of its 1900MHz spectrum for its HSPA+ 4G network, CNet reports. Current iPhone models are expected to be able to take advantage of the network as a result. Subscribers who use unlocked iPhones on the T-Mobile network are limited to 2G speeds at present.
Ray said a company marketing campaign targeting iPhone users would "make sense" later this year, but he stopped short of saying whether the company had any plans for one. T-Mobile is the only major carrier in the U.S. that does not sell the iPhone. The company blamed the launch of the iPhone 4S as the primary reason for a loss of more than 700,000 contract customers during the fourth quarter of 2011.
T-Mobile CEO Philipp Humm said early this year that frequency band incompatibility is the "key reason" that the company doesn't officially offer Apple's iPhone. At the time, Humm suggested that the problem would be resolved over time as next-generation chipsets add support for more bands. T-Mobile, however, does not appear to be content with just waiting and has been "refarming" some of its spectrum to support the iPhone. Late last year, scattered reports emerged that small pockets of T-Mobile iPhone users were seeing HSPA+ 3G speeds after the carrier switched over to 1900MHz spectrum in some areas.
Rumors of a next-generation LTE-capable iPhone arriving later this year have also prompted speculation that T-Mobile could wait until its LTE network is up and running before initiating sales of the iPhone. T-Mobile announced on Monday that it had signed contracts with Nokia Siemens and Ericsson to build out its LTE network. The company will spend as much as $4 billion to transform its 4G network and plans to have nationwide LTE coverage next year.