T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray, sharing news of T-Mobile's plans for rolling out Long-Term Evolution- (LTE-) based 4G, included a detail likely to be of far more interest to subscribers than the difference between HSPA+ 42 technology and HSPA +84. Once all the puzzle pieces of its new plan are in place, Ray said, the T-Mobile network will be compatible with the Apple iPhone.
"A nice side benefit of the refarming effort is that our 4G network will be compatible with a broader range of devices, including the iPhone," Ray casually dropped toward the end of a March 13 post on the T-Mobile blog.
Of course, there's nothing casual about the iPhonenothing casual about supporting it and nothing casual about offering it. In October, Sprint finally began offering the iPhone, which CEO Dan Hesse had, during a September "fireside chat" at a Goldman Sachs event, called the No. 1 reason that subscribers switchor really, ditchcarriers.
T-Mobile is currently the only top-four carrier without an iPhone, and while it has insisted that its smartphone offerings stack up against the iPhoneoffering faster speeds, larger screes and more "compelling service pricing"it has also made clear that it wants the iPhone.
"T-Mobile thinks the iPhone is a good device, and weve expressed our interest to Apple to offer it to our customers," Andrew Sherrard, T-Mobile senior vice president of marketing, said in an October 2011 statement. "Ultimately, it is Apples decision. The issue remains that Apple has not developed a version of the iPhone with technology that works on our fast 3G and 4G networks."
But, soon, work it will. Thanks to restructuring efforts at T-Mobile that come largely thanks to its failed deal with AT&T. Included in the pair's arrangement was an agreement that should the deal fail, T-Mobile would receive some Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum and approximately $4 billion for its troubles.
In February, T-Mobile announced it was investing $4 billion in a "network modernization and 4G evolution effort" to improve its voice and data coverage and establish a path for an LTE rollout in 2013.
"We want to be known for delivering the best value in wireless because of the advanced technology we deliver at an affordable price, CEO Philipp Humm said in the statement, adding that over the next two years, bringing T-Mobilewhich was the first U.S. carrier to introduce smartphones with the Android OSback to growth.
Ray, in the Q&A, added that T-Mobile's late arrival to the LTE party is actually to its advantage, enabling it to benefit from lowered prices and a broader view of where the industry is headed.
"[W]e have the advantage of coming to market at a time when the price points on LTE devices and network infrastructure will be coming down and the performance of LTE devices and network infrastructure will be improving," said Ray. "We plan to deploy LTE release 10-compatible equipment, so well be well-positioned and ready to move to LTE Advanced."
T-Mobile's current 4G network, based on Evolved High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA+) and HSPA+ 42 technology, currently covers 200 million people in 225 markets.
Ray said that moving to LTE is T-Mobile's main focus, but it will continue to consider whether to upgrade to HSPA+ 84, which offers theoretical download speeds of 84M bps.
"In the long run," said Ray, "I would like to see both technologies advance."