updated 11:40 am EST, Wed January 11, 2012
T-Mobile USA hints it gets next iPhone
T-Mobile USA CTO Neville Ray provided a potentially major clue to a possible iPhone deal in an interview late Tuesday. He divulged to CNET that he had seen Apple's cellular chipset roadmap and that the next chipset would support AWS (Advanced Wireless Spectrum), or the 1,700MHz band that T-Mobile needs for its HSPA+ 3G network. While cautioning that no deal was guaranteed, he made it clear that the company's most often cited obstacle was now just temporary.
"The challenge that existed in the past will go away," Ray said.
On the iPhone adopting LTE, the executive added that Apple's use was hinging on what technology every network would be using. T-Mobile's was one of those being factored in, he said, although he didn't commit to any upgrade plans. He argued that LTE was possible in some areas, even if T-Mobile had to drop its original GSM frequencies to get more LTE space.
T-Mobile recently landed a roaming deal with AT&T that in the wake of the failed merger that will give it some AT&T bands as well, although likely not enough to offer complete LTE coverage.
Leaks emerged early last year that showed Apple testing T-Mobile on the iPhone. The resulting iPhone 4S never had proper T-Mobile 3G support, although it's believed this was because the dual-mode CDMA and GSM chipset that Apple wanted for Sprint, Verizon, KDDI, and others wouldn't support T-Mobile bands.
An iPhone on T-Mobile would be a symbolic victory for Apple. The deal would see an iPhone on all four major, national US carriers. It would simultaneously eliminate the last 'safe' place for Android on the national level and take the iPhone to the very first Android carrier in the world. Historically, the iPhone is always the top seller among individual devices on any US carrier.