Amid speculation that T-Mobile USA will or will not carry Apple’s new iPhone, the carrier’s network is working hard to support it, refarming their PCS band with HSPA. T-Mobile, of course, won’t have LTE service until mid-2013. Meanwhile, the carrier now counts 15 markets with HSPA on 1900 MHz.
T-Mobile currently has most of its voice service on the PCS band (1.9 GHz) and most of its HSPA+ data on the AWS band (1.7/2.1 GHz). Unfortunately, iPhones don’t (yet) support the AWS band, so users are generally stuck with 2G speeds (EDGE) on the PCS band, not the higher speed HDPA+ network which can gang a couple of 5 MHz carriers together for faster speeds, up to 42 Mbps.
T-Mobile engineers have made HSPA available in the PCS band in Miami; Phoenix; San Francisco; Mesa and Tucson, Ariz.; Modesto, Oakland, San Jose and Stockton, Calif.; and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“Customers in these metro areas can also bring their unlocked AT&T smartphones to T-Mobile, and experience a significant speed boost on our 4G network, while also saving up to $50/month compared to AT&T”, said Chief Technology Officer for T-Mobile USA, Neville Ray, last week.
More markets are expected to launch HSPA on the PCS band before year-end. The company is working on adding HSPA+ 1900 MHz capabilities in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, the New York metro area, Philadelphia, San Diego and Seattle.
Jim Alling, COO of T-Mobile USA, sounds uncommitted; “Make no mistake about it: We would love to carry the iPhone. However, we want the economies to be right for us,” he said.
Some of company’s HSPA+ deployments in its 1900 MHz spectrum were delayed due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy. While the refarming effort is proceeding, T-Mobile is unlikely to launch the iPhone until the process is complete, says Fierce Wireless.
An unlocked iPhone 5 is pretty pricey; $649 for the 16GB model, $749 for the 32GB model, and $849 for the 64GB model.