Come sometime 2013, Super Regional carrier US Cellular will be the largest carrier to not carry the iPhone/iPad. Aren’t I forgetting one? A carrier that has notably never carried Apple mobile products? Nope, not anymore. T-Mobile USA’s parent, Deutsche Telekom, confirmed in a press release that the Apple holdout is now over.
So why 2013 and not now? It all comes down to network and frequencies. For its UTMS and now DC-HSPA+ networks, T-Mobile was assigned spectrum in the 1700mhz AWS band. While used by T-Mobile USA and GSM regionals in the US and Wind Mobile in Canada, the spectrum is used almost nowhere else. Apple decided to only support a 4-band frequency chip leaving their devices without AWS support. That left the iPhone stuck on 2G speeds on the Magenta carrier. T-Mobile also currently lacks a next generation LTE network.
Within the upcoming merger with MetroPCS, T-Mobile is completely revamping their network. The 3G, excuse me, “4G” network is being moved to the 1900mhz band which Apple supports. A few markets are already online. The AWS spectrum will be used for the LTE network. The AT&T versions of the iPhone 5 iPad 4, and iPad Mini would be fully compatible with this finished network.
However, it all takes time and thus the reason for the delay and the vagueness of exactly when. If you’re a T-Mobile customer and you like your service, and if you’re willing to be patient for a little while longer, you can finally have your iDevice. For AT&T customers, you’ll have a second option that will allow you to take your device with you if you don’t like the service, much like Europe has enjoyed. The iPhone going magenta could be a very good thing for consumers going forward.