Sprint, T-Mobile iPhones Could Follow Quickly on Verizon's Heels

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-01-17 Print this article Print

title=Sprint, T-Mobile Fertile Ground for iPhone Migration} 

There's also rampant speculation that T-Mobile might the next logical company to offer an iPhone. The company already sells the iPhone in Europe, for example, and while the 3G frequencies in use by the AT&T iPhone aren't compatible with T-Mobile's 3G network, that's not such a problem with the T-Mobile iPhone from Germany. There the 3G frequencies used by the UMTS system operate on 1900/2100 MHz. T-Mobile USA uses 1700/2100 MHz. All that's really needed is the ability for the 3G radio in the German iPhone to support 1700 MHz. The other features of the German T-Mobile iPhone already work perfectly in the United States. 

But does this mean that T-Mobile will start selling iPhones? In a statement provided by T-Mobile to eWEEK, the company has said that it wants this to happen and that the only thing preventing it is working out the 3G frequency differences. Two other things are worth noting. T-Mobile's new CEO Philipp Humm was T-Mobile's CEO in Germany when the iPhone was introduced. He has a long and very close working relationship with Apple as a result. Also, some T-Mobile company stores in the United States have begun offering iPhone accessories.  

T-Mobile also has one of those secret announcements planned in New York, and of course there's no word on what the subject might be. Could it be that instead of trying to re-engineer the AT&T iPhone, T-Mobile will simply enhance the version it already sells in Europe? There's no way to be sure exactly what's planned, but there doesn't seem to be any insurmountable obstacles keeping the other two major carriers out of the iPhone market. 

Of course, all of this is up to Apple. But Apple has a problem that it didn't have back in 2007 when it made all those exclusive arrangements. That problem is called Android, and it's not going away. As Apple has already determined when it started broadening the base of its sales for iPods and iPads, exclusivity can't stand in the way of market share, and right now Apple's market share is threatened. 

Of course, there's another reason. With new versions of the iPhone come improvements, even if they're not called new versions. The iPhone that Verizon Wireless will be selling has some significant changes that will make it work better, especially when it comes to antenna design. The infamous "Death Grip" problem that plagued the AT&T iPhone last summer doesn't exist in the Verizon version. That same improvement will follow the iPhone to Sprint if it gets the device. Would it follow the iPhone to T-Mobile?  

Right now the only thing we know for sure is that T-Mobile has already said it wants to sell the iPhone and appears to be getting ready to do that. Sprint isn't saying. But don't be surprised to see the iPhone shockwaves spread to those two carriers. 

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel