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T-Mobile racing to convert its 4G network to support Apple's iPhone

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
America's fourth largest carrier is also the only major U.S. provider unable to sell the iPhone, but T-Mobile is working diligently to change that situation.

Ever since the original iPhone shipped in 2007, T-Mobile has been able to host unlocked iPhones on its network, but only over the much slower 2G GSM frequency bands it shares with AT&T.

The 3G networks T-Mobile built have not been compatible with the iPhone because they work on non-standard AWS (Advanced Wireless Spectrum) frequencies rather than those used by AT&T in the US and most GSM-aligned carriers worldwide. T-Mobile then bet against the industry in siding with WiMax rather than 4G LTE as its future, a decision that was also incompatible with the iPhone.

While Verizon worked with Apple to develop a special CDMA model of the iPhone compatible with its network (and later adopted by Sprint, in addition to other CDMA carriers worldwide), T-Mobile's much smaller subscriber base has never been large enough to attract similar attention from Apple, whether for its non-standard 3G or its WiMax networks.

That has forced the company to strive to support unlocked iPhone users in an unofficial capacity even as it scrambles to make the network changes necessary to start negotiations with Apple. At the same time, the company's public marketing has attempted to downplay the iPhone and recommend Android-based alternatives, just as Verizon did right up until it could carry the iPhone.


T-Mobile Memo


Reportedly leaked internal T-Mobile memo regarding new iPhone customer support | Source: TmoNews.com


Dashed plans, picking up the pieces



T-Mobile's initial plan to get the iPhone revolved around a proposed $39 billion acquisition by AT&T last year, which intended to reuse T-Mobile's spectrum to rapidly build out 4G LTE in the U.S. while enhancing coverage for existing AT&T users in the short term.

After the government stopped the deal, ostensibly to keep T-Mobile's cheaper plans available to consumers, T-Mobile was awarded a $3 billion in cash and $1 billion worth of spectrum as a parting gift.

Over the course of the last year, T-Mobile has been working to build out new 4G technologies that are compatible with Apple's iPhone, after having announced the loss of 700,000 subscribers that it attributed to the launch of Apple's iPhone 4S last fall.

In May, T-Mobile's chief technology officer Neville Ray said the company would be repurposing its existing 1900MHz 2G service with 4G HSPA+, in order to "provide customers with the ability to use a broader range of devices, including the iPhone, on T-Mobile's 4G network."

In January, T-Mobile's chief executive Philipp Humm said that "the key reason we didn?t have the iPhone in the past is we are on different band than globally the market was," echoing the sentiment of the company's chief marketing officer, who a few months earlier noted that the company would "love to have" the iPhone, but that the "the ball is in Apple's court."

T-Mobile already supports iPhone 4S in some areas, faster than AT&T



T-Mobile is also planning to build out 4G LTE service next year, but portions of its recently built HSPA+ service, built out in New York City, Seattle and Las Vegas, is already capable of supporting Apple's iPhone 4S. T-Mobile was among the first carriers to advertise its HSPA+ networks as 4G, despite it not being LTE (albeit often just as fast as LTE).

In a new interview with Gigaom, Ray stated the the existing iPhone 4S is already operating 70 percent faster on T-Mobile than it does on AT&T.

Additionally, Ray noted that T-Mobile is also building support for dual-carrier HSPA+, which can support speeds up to 42 Mbps. While the iPhone 4S currently only handles HSPA+ up to 14.4 Mbps, the new iPad arrived with support for dual-carrier networks alongside North American LTE, making it very likely that the upcoming iPhone 5 will also support T-Mobile's very fast dual-carrier 1900MHz HSPA+.

Ray added, "We?ll have a material footprint on HSPA+ at 1900 MHz by the end of the year,? and told the site that T-Mobile would begin aggressively courting unlocked iPhone users this holiday season.

Once T-Mobile can offer broad support for iPhones on its network, Apple will likely be glad to negotiate a carrier agreement, although was the case with Sprint, it's not likely that T-Mobile will land the popular smartphone without guaranteeing solid sales with money up front.
post #2 of 21
Racing?

T-mobile started this refarming work at the beginning of 2012.
post #3 of 21
Hasn't T-Mobile been GSM/HSPA all along? Sprint was the carrier that decided to go with WiMax.
post #4 of 21
So if I live in Seattle ... can I use an iPhone now? if so what would I have to do (do I have to buy the phone from Apple directly? or what?
post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim95 View Post

Hasn't T-Mobile been GSM/HSPA all along? Sprint was the carrier that decided to go with WiMax.

 

Due to frequency allocation politics in the US, T-Mobile had to use 1700/2100MHz for HSPA+ data.

 

The iPhone and many global GSM phones don't support 1700MHz.

 

Since the beginning of this year, T-Mobile has been changing the hardware on their towers in order to "refarm" the frequency used for GPRS to allow them to support 1900MHz for HSPA+ (aka 3G/4G) data. 

 

When they are finished, any unlocked global GSM phone will get full data access on T-Mobile USA.

post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon Werner View Post

So if I live in Seattle ... can I use an iPhone now? if so what would I have to do (do I have to buy the phone from Apple directly? or what?

 

You could always use an unlocked iPhone on T-Mobile. You would just be limited to EDGE speeds until T-Mobile finishes their work on the towers to support 1900MHz.

post #7 of 21

I just don't get the state of the GSM providers these days.

 

Verizon already has LTE where I live. They even have LTE south of where I live, in the even boonierdocks. The serious boondocks. Their LTE seems to be almost everywhere around here. 

T-Mobile has zero on-network service. We're through one of their… what do they call them…. partners? No data at all. AT&T has EDGE where we live. AT&T still does not have even HSPA+ just north of here where Verizon's LTE has been for months.

 

I'm not excited about having to deal with mobile dial-up locally, but when we can get iPhones and ∞/∞/6GB for less than Verizon charges us for 1000/250/0GB (voice, messages, data, respectively), and for less than Verizon would charge us for iPhones and 1000/1000/2GB shared, we don't really want Verizon anymore. 

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply
post #8 of 21
More crack reporting from AI. Could you cite a source for the notion that "T-Mobile then bet against the industry in siding with WiMax rather than 4G LTE as its future, a decision that was also incompatible with the iPhone"?

There may have been some noises with Clearwire, but nothing came of it:

http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/TMobile-Mobile-WiMax-A-Niche-Play-110670
post #9 of 21

One day they are trying to get customers not to buy the iPhone, the next they are spending billions on supporting it. What idiots.

 

 


Tim Cook using Galaxy Tabs as frisbees

 

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Tim Cook using Galaxy Tabs as frisbees

 

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post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I just don't get the state of the GSM providers these days.

Verizon already has LTE where I live. They even have LTE south of where I live, in the even boonierdocks. The serious boondocks. Their LTE seems to be almost everywhere around here. 
T-Mobile has zero on-network service. We're through one of their… what do they call them…. partners? No data at all. AT&T has EDGE where we live. AT&T still does not have even HSPA+ just north of here where Verizon's LTE has been for months.

I'm not excited about having to deal with mobile dial-up locally, but when we can get iPhones and ∞/∞/6GB for less than Verizon charges us for 1000/250/0GB (voice, messages, data, respectively), and for less than Verizon would charge us for iPhones and 1000/1000/2GB shared, we don't really want Verizon anymore. 

HA!!! You said boonierdocks. Now that's funny. Btw where do you live? Mount Kilasamsungo?
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #11 of 21
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post
HA!!! You said boonierdocks. Now that's funny. Btw where do you live? Mount Kilasamsungo?


The far east of the midwest. Not in mountains and not even on what you'd consider wide, sweeping plains. And yet we still have deplorable data coverage and locally still a lack of even voice on some GSM providers. Verizon's great, though.

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply
post #12 of 21

Assuming the next generation iPhone is compatible with T-Mobile's higher speed network, buying an unsubsidized unlocked iPhone and using it on T-Mobile would be a great way to save money. A 16 GB unlocked iPhone costs $649. Most carriers make you pay $199 upfront (except now since they are trying to clear inventory). That leaves the subsidized cost at $450. Spread out over two years that is $18.75 a month. You can get a unlimited talk, text, and data plan (tethered after two GBs) for $59.99 a month. Add the $18.75 and that comes out to $78.74 a month. The same plan on AT&T would cost $140 a month. T-Mobile's data plan is not the fastest, but it is fine for email, web surfing, and even music streaming (e.g. Pandora). Further, how important is super fast data when on AT&T and Verizon you cap out at 2 GBs?

post #13 of 21
So I stopped into a couple of T-Mumble retail stores today to see how much reality there is to what's been released by their half-as*ed marketing crew from 1426 (the year)... This press fluff just looked to good to be true.

1) if you look at the detail of the 'value plan' under the 'bring your own SIM CARD' scam, the wording at the end ( in light grey versus regular hard black type - harder to notice AND read that way..) explains that all the old gotcha fees apply AND, to get this great rate, you HAVE TO COMMIT TO A TWO YEAR CONTRACT. NO CHANCE... AND THEIR NOT EVEN HELPING YOU WITH PHONE SUBSIDIES FOR THAT COMMITMENT !!!!

2) if you explore all the options under the 'Unlimited broadband options', again, if you read all the fine print, the plan IS NOT the price you actually pay AND the 'un-limited 4G is CAPPED !!!!

SOS - another day...
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


The far east of the midwest. Not in mountains and not even on what you'd consider wide, sweeping plains. And yet we still have deplorable data coverage and locally still a lack of even voice on some GSM providers. Verizon's great, though.

 

Wait! You live in an area that has ONE carrier with great coverage, and you decide that THAT'S not the carrier you want to do business with?? Are you a masochist ?

"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #15 of 21
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post
Wait! You live in an area that has ONE carrier with great coverage, and you decide that THAT'S not the carrier you want to do business with?? Are you a masochist ?

 

I… yes. But only emotionally. Never physically; as there is nothing more precious than Mind, keeping the physical bit of me around it in the best condition possible keeps that around for as long as possible.
 
I dunno; we've not made up our minds, I suppose. But the big telecoms are unwavering on their plans when faced with cheaper, better ones.
 
THIS WOULDN'T BE A PROBLEM IF I KNEW HOW TO CDMA PROVISION. I could just get an iPhone, load it up with the right stuff, and use it with Straight Talk on Verizon's network, since some of their phones do use Verizon's network. Maybe they'll just take the MEID without asking…

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply
post #16 of 21

I brought in my own SIM card, fresh from the kitchen knife, and got a pre-paid plan for $50.00 a month for unlimited data, voice and texts... 6 months ago. That's after taxes and fees.  The data is EDGE but I can wi-fi hotspot it anytime for free.  And EDGE isn't that horrible.  I can text and Mail with photos.  Find My iPhone works fine.  Web is slow, but maps and siri work. As it is, I'm using Wi-Fi 95% of the time anyway.  For what I save in $$$, I'll deal with the web slowness that 5% of the time.

post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by CafeFog View Post

I brought in my own SIM card, fresh from the kitchen knife, and got a pre-paid plan for $50.00 a month for unlimited data, voice and texts... 6 months ago. That's after taxes and fees.  The data is EDGE but I can wi-fi hotspot it anytime for free.  And EDGE isn't that horrible.  I can text and Mail with photos.  Find My iPhone works fine.  Web is slow, but maps and siri work. As it is, I'm using Wi-Fi 95% of the time anyway.  For what I save in $$$, I'll deal with the web slowness that 5% of the time.

 

My wife and I did the same as you when she decided she wanted an iPhone (for calendar syncing).  unlimited everything prepaid for $50 a month each. ($52 with tax when i reupped this month).  We save at least $40 a month pre-tax, and that's with at AT&T plan that was: $70 for 700 min shared, $10 (each) for 1,000 texts (grandfathered from the past), $30 my grandfathered data, and a min of $20 for her data plan = $140-- BEST CASE SCENARIO.   So she paid a $100 ETF and in about 3 months we are even. She's using a gifted old 3GS from a friend.  No issues. 

post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bwinski View Post

So I stopped into a couple of T-Mumble retail stores today to see how much reality there is to what's been released by their half-as*ed marketing crew from 1426 (the year)... This press fluff just looked to good to be true.
1) if you look at the detail of the 'value plan' under the 'bring your own SIM CARD' scam, the wording at the end ( in light grey versus regular hard black type - harder to notice AND read that way..) explains that all the old gotcha fees apply AND, to get this great rate, you HAVE TO COMMIT TO A TWO YEAR CONTRACT. NO CHANCE... AND THEIR NOT EVEN HELPING YOU WITH PHONE SUBSIDIES FOR THAT COMMITMENT !!!!
2) if you explore all the options under the 'Unlimited broadband options', again, if you read all the fine print, the plan IS NOT the price you actually pay AND the 'un-limited 4G is CAPPED !!!!
SOS - another day...

 

 

I honestly don't get your grievances. Between AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, T-Mobile offers the most options at the best prices. T-Mobile has more than one type of plan. It has subsidized plans, no-contract plans, and value plans. It is not helping you with subsidies on the value plan because the plan is geared toward people who already own a phone and are willing to sign a two year commitment in exchange for getting the lowest prices. If a phone comes out that you want that T-Mobile offers (e.g. the new iPhone eventually) you can always pay the upfront cost (e.g. $199) and pay T-Mobile twenty dollars a month until the phone is paid off. Even doing that, as I explained in a previous post, it is significantly cheaper then on AT&T and Verizon. Like all contract plans, you pay a penalty when you drop out early. Stinks, but certainly not unique to T-Mobile. 

 

Further, T-Mobile has a lot of different data plans. It has a truly unlimited (e.g. like Sprint) or it has unlimited subject to tethering. If you have a 4G capable phone (e.g. not the iPhone on T-Mobile), T-Mobile's network is in many cases faster than the comparable ones from the other carriers. I am generally by wi-fi, so I only use about 300 MBs of data. 

 

I have used every carrier, and even though T-Mobile can frustrate me, it beats the other guys by miles. So if the service works good in your area, you are doing yourself a disservice by at least not checking it out. Moreover, T-Mobile has the most options in terms of creating a unique plan. For instance, try putting an iPhone on AT&T without a data plan even if it is unlocked and fully paid for. 

post #19 of 21
IF, you plan to pursue the use of he iPhone on T-Mumble's network, just be very careful what you think you're getting for what amount and realize, they fundamentally have no clue , how to support the iPhone... I'll give you three examples... (I was in three T-Mumble retail stores yesterday with similar results in all three).....

1) The iPhones being announced tomorrow use the new NANO-SIM technology that was approved a couple of months ago and is now being deployed world wide. T-Mumble retail knows NOTHING ABOUT THIS - NOTHING. They know only about the micro-sim that is used in the 4/4S. So be warned.

2) The marketing of 'bring your un-locked iPhone to us' meme is VERY poorly written for the customer. It's pushing on the scam line. So, if you walk into your local friendly T-Mumble retailer, they'll certainly try to sell you a package for your un-locked iPhone that may CAP the 4G data at 5GB per month. Careful here... IF you're going for a month-to-month plan, the CAP WILL ABSOLUTELY apply.. So, if THAT aggregates you, they may try to steer you to the 'SIM ONLY' packages...

3) They look great, are actually cheaper than the frontline 'unlimited' data plans from before but with ONE REAL DISADVANTAGE. The 'SIM ONLY' plans REQUIRE A TWO YEAR CONTRACT COMMITMENT from you and that's something they tend to leave out of the discussion. It's also printed on the website in 'grey' type that you tend not to read and in a smaller typeface at the end of the offers.... Just be careful... You may sign up for something you may not want....
post #20 of 21
T-Mobile just turned up its 1900Mhz 3G band in Los Angeles last night!
post #21 of 21

Just got almost 9 Mbit/s in Downtown Seattle! It's still spotty, but if those speeds are coming in the near future to all of Seattle, there is no reason not to go T-Mobile.

 

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