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8/28/2012
10:19 AM
Eric Zeman
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T-Mobile Works iPhone 5 Angles

T-Mobile is preparing its retail staff for the iPhone 5's arrival--even though it won't be selling the device. For example, it can woo unlocked iPhone owners.

Apple iPhone 5 Vs. Samsung Galaxy S III: What We Know
Apple iPhone 5 Vs. Samsung Galaxy S III: What We Know
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
T-Mobile, the nation's fourth-largest wireless network provider, doesn't sell the iPhone 4S, nor has it ever offered Apple's smartphone. Even though T-Mobile hasn't come to an agreement with Apple to sell the iconic smartphone, it has a strategy for the iPhone 5 just the same.

Leaked internal memos show that T-Mobile is preparing its retail staff for the next-generation iPhone 5's debut. What is the company planning to do?

First, T-Mobile is prepared to sell SIM card kits. The iPhone 4/4S use a micro SIM card developed by Apple. T-Mobile already sells micro SIM cards that can be used with the iPhone 4/4S, and it looks like T-Mobile is prepared to step up its campaign for snagging iPhone customers.

[ Will the iPhone 5 offer near-field communications? Read iPhone 5's 'One More Thing': NFC?. ]

TmoNews, which published the leaked memos, surmises that this detail points to impending news about T-Mobile's network upgrades. T-Mobile is working to refarm--or repurpose--some of its existing spectrum. T-Mobile's 3G network operates in the 1700MHz spectrum block. This is the main reason it doesn't offer the iPhone: Apple won't build a model that supports this spectrum.

In order to get around this issue, T-Mobile is going to move its 3G network from the 1700MHz spectrum to its 1900MHz spectrum holdings. This is the same spectrum that AT&T uses for its 3G network, and the same spectrum on which the iPhone has operated since Day 1. In short, T-Mobile's 3G network will, eventually, be compatible with older 3G iPhones. T-Mobile will then offer LTE 4G on its 1700MHz spectrum holdings, as well as some 700MHz spectrum that it will acquire from Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile expects to get its first LTE markets on the air in 2013.

In the meantime, it will have some ammunition to give its retail folks once the iPhone 5 launches. T-Mobile will be able to advertise SIM cards and speedy 3G service for the iPhone 4/4S. T-Mobile can also pitch the benefits of using an unlocked device on its network, which generally allows users to access service without lengthy contracts. (T-Mobile's network is already home to more than 1 million unlocked iPhones.) T-Mobile won't be able to offer a 4G LTE iPhone, though.

Why not pull the same SIM card trick with the iPhone 5? The iPhone 5 is expected to change to an even newer and smaller nano SIM card, which was recently approved by the European Telecommunications Union. iPhone owners won't be able to use a nano SIM in a device with a micro SIM tray, and vice versa. T-Mobile hasn't indicated if it will offer nano SIMs, too, for the iPhone 5.

Apple hasn't announced the iPhone 5, but it is expected to do so on September 12. The new phone may reach retail stores as early as September 21.

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ebernet
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ebernet,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/28/2012 | 11:23:42 PM
re: T-Mobile Works iPhone 5 Angles
While I agree with most of the sentiment in this article, I don't understand how the author knows, with what seems like certainty, that T-Mobile will not be getting the iPhone 6th generation iPhone.
T-Mobile has been, as you mention, rolling out 1900 MHz and LTE. I don't think Apple turned down T-Mobile because they didn't want them, I think they turned down T-Mobile because they did not want to create an iPhone with the AWS spectrum for just one company. If T-mobile has the infrastructure that will support the iPhone, I am sure Apple will be more than happy to let them sell the 6th generation iPhone using their subsidies.
PJS880
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PJS880,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/28/2012 | 5:14:27 PM
re: T-Mobile Works iPhone 5 Angles
I am so glad that Tmobile did not get bought out, I am transferring to Tmobile when my Verizon contract ends in November. I purchased a Tmobile phone for international travel and throw money on my account to use instead of my Verizon phone that does not cover international. I am so impressed with the service that I have used in the past and the cost is miniscule when compared top the other 3 carriers that are a larger mobile carrier than Tmobile. It doesn't surprise me one bit to learn that Tmobile reps. Are preparing for the iPhone 5 release. That is just smart business to gain phones that are not on their network, even if it is the number one smartphone in this country, Tmobile wants a piece of iPhone users and they will get it! That just goes to show you the commitment that the Tmobile will soon move up the ranks.

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