It’s been a busy week for T-Mobile. After refusing to comment to PhoneNews.com on T-Mobile testing 1900 MHz UMTS service in select markets, a direct effort to support unlocked iPhones, the carrier has made more depressing internal moves.
It appears that the carrier has aborted plans to offer 3G on 1900 MHz, as the carrier earlier this month began instructing customer service to suggest iPhone users on the network upgrade to a 4G Android smartphone, compatible with their network frequencies. T-Mobile offered customer support representatives a series of talking points on why iPhone is limited to 2G, or EDGE speeds on the T-Mobile network.
While it is possible that these are simply two different hands of a company not talking to one another, the timeline does indicate that T-Mobile wants iPhone off its network, rather than embrace the 1900 MHz band for UMTS. With no possibility of an AT&T merger, the carrier has to decide to use 1900 MHz for UMTS, or save it for LTE.
The carrier also has to decide when to wind down its GSM/EDGE services, which would leave iPhone customers in the dark. Other handsets that are GSM-only could be upgraded for free with UMTS handsets at marginal cost to T-Mobile. AT&T had to undergo the same effort when it wound down its TDMA and AMPS networks, and will likely have to do the same with GSM in order to re-use the spectrum.
Following criticism from many, T-Mobile does now appear to be pulling at least a temporary about-face with the public. The carrier has published memos internally, confirmed by PhoneNews.com, that they will begin to provide basic technical support for iPhone on the T-Mobile network.
Support will be limited to basic compatibility configuration, the T-Mobile APN (needed to enable data services), as well as T-Mobile’s email and MMS gateways.
In addition, T-Mobile will also provide support for iPhone usage and navigation, but only at a basic level. Services like the App Store and iTunes or iPod will not be supported, T-Mobile representatives are directed to tell customers to contact Apple for further technical support.
T-Mobile is the only of the major four carriers to not carry an iPhone currently. This partially stemmed from AT&T’s intention to purchase/merge with T-Mobile, and T-Mobile refusing to pay Apple’s higher device subsidies. T-Mobile executives have commented that the next iPhone will support T-Mobile’s network, prompting T-Mobile public relations to perform damage control, having announced an Apple product prior to Apple confirming it.