T-Mobile iPhone: Network Upgrade Opens the Door

T-Mobile USA announced this week multiyear agreements with Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks to support its $4 billion 4G network evolution plan, that, will among other things, allow the carrier to offer its customers Apple’s iPhone if, of course, the computer giant agrees on a partnership.

In announcing the infrastructure deal at CTIA, T-Mobile said it would deploy long-term evolution (LTE) service in 2013. Last week, America’s fourth-largest carrier secured the AWS spectrum licenses from AT&T which were agreed to as part of the breakup of the proposed merger between the two companies. The LTE network will cover three-quarters of the company’s top 25 markets, the carrier said.

Were making great progress on our $4 billion 4G network transformation,” said Neville Ray, chief technology officer, T-Mobile USA. With these partners on board and the AT&T AWS spectrum secured, were on track to enhance our 4G experience this year and deliver nationwide LTE in 2013.”

T-Mobile claims up to 1 million customers already use “unlocked” iPhones on its network, but they are unable to use them at speeds faster than 2G, which is pretty worthless these days. Before going live with LTE, the carrier will bolster its next-generation HSPA+ network, which runs on a spectrum that is compatible with iPhones and other devices running at 3G speeds. That improvement is slated for the end of this year.

The iPhone and some other top devices might help T-Mobile which has seen a steady drop in subscribers stay in the race with AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint.

There are multiple explanations [for the subscriber loss], including the lack of an iPhone and the uncertainty caused by the AT&T marriage that never happened,” said Yankee Group Senior VP of Research Wally Swain. “But certainly one reason is the lack of an LTE-branded 4G offer. T-Mobile invented the HSPA+-is-4G marketing ploy, but apparently that isn’t working now that AT&T and Verizon both claim to have LTE networks … In many markets, HSPA+ may be enough for the short term. But if an important competitor goes LTE for whatever reason, other competitors must follow the lead or get left behind in the technological arms race.”

Looking for more? Click here for B/OSS’ ongoing coverage of CTIA Wireless 2012 and here for V2M’s coverage of the event. And check out V2M Editor-in-Chief Tara Seals’ Twitter feed for her take from New Orleans.

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