Cult of Mac fronted a report
last night saying that Apple and T-Mobile USA were close to concluding negotiations on bringing the iPhone to the fourth-largest US carrier. Cult of Mac
's Leander Kahney quoted a "highly-placed source" as saying the deal was "80 percent likely" to go through in the third quarter of 2010, meaning this fall. While the report is pure rumor at this point, it is worth noting that Kahney has been around for a long time, and his sources are probably better than just "some guy at the T-Mobile store."
There have been rumors of a second US carrier for years now; part of the mystery is that no one knows how long AT&T's exclusive contract with Apple is supposed to be in force. USA Today
reported back in 2007 that it was a five-year contract, which was seemingly confirmed by some statements Apple made
during a class-action suit against them and AT&T. If the deal is still in force, this would mean that the iPhone would be AT&T exclusively until 2012. And Apple has been tight-lipped about any changes in the arrangement, with executives continuously downplaying any talk of a second carrier. COO Tim Cook said during the Apple earnings call earlier this week
that the company is "very happy to be partnering with AT&T, and they've been a first-class partner and really pioneered the smartphone growth from a network point of view in the US." He cut off any further explanation, concluding "that's all I have to say about that."
While T-Mobile offers a benefit to Apple over Verizon in that T-Mobile uses the same GSM/UMTS standard as AT&T, T-Mobile's network operates on UMTS band IV - the so-called Advanced Wireless Services band - at 1700 and 2100 MHz. The iPhone 4 spec sheet
only shows support for 850, 900, 1900 and 2100 MHz, so it would still probably require Apple to do a rework of the radio to move to the new carrier. Cult of Mac'
s article suggests that perhaps Apple "simply didn't list" 1700 MHz support, but it would be speculation to conclude either way.
Apple refused to confirm or deny the report, and a T-Mobile rep simply said that “T-Mobile does not comment on rumor or speculation."
Source: Cult of Mac