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T-Mobile USA Spectrum Refarming Lets Some iPhone Users Access 3G Data Speeds

While T-Mobile USA has yet to officially offer the iPhone due to an inability to reach an agreement with Apple on the development of new hardware to support T-Mobile's 3G/4G network standards, that hasn't stopped the carrier from quietly targeting iPhone owners with micro-SIM cards and over one million users from taking their unlocked iPhones to the carrier.

Those users have, however, been limited to T-Mobile's slower EDGE network due to the iPhone's incompatibility with the 1700/2100 MHz bands used by the carrier for its faster data networks.


TmoNews now reports, however, that T-Mobile USA has begun refarming some of its spectrum capacity in order to advance its next-generation HSPA+ 84 network, with those changes resulting in the carrier's 3G network moving over to the iPhone-accessible 1900 MHz band in some "pockets" of the country.
First and foremost, the area we’re specifically talking about is Nevada as that is where this individual unlocked iPhone owner lives. However, Nevada, parts of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest are also seeing some pockets of 1900MHz spectrum refarming for HSPA+. There are other parts of the country T-Mobile can refarm the 1900MHz spectrum but, the focus is on the Pacific Northwest, Nevada, Utah and California for right now from what we’re told. We should emphasize and emphasize greatly that this post does not mean that all of the aforementioned areas are seeing this refarmed spectrum, just pockets inside those areas.
The report notes that T-Mobile iPhone user access to 3G will remain "rare" as the spectrum refarming will only result in the required transition taking place in limited areas around the country. But for those users lucky enough to be in one of those pockets, they are already seeing data speeds well above what the iPhone has until been limited to on the carrier's EDGE network.

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6

Top Rated Comments

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31 months ago

For people who want to be on GSM, but not with AT&T.

(Try switching between two calls with a Verizon iPhone....IT IS A NIGHTMARE! With with T-Mobile/AT&T, just tap on the person's name..on my old VZW iPhone 4, You can't do that, and the swap button sometimes is greyed out, I was forced to hang up and call them back!)


Weird, this works fine on my verizon android phone. I think this is a problem with apples software rather than cdma. Either way T mobile is good for the industry as they help keep prices down on the larger networks.

Edit: why did I get voted down. I was saying that it can be fixed in software which is a good thing.
Rating: 7 Positives
31 months ago


Anyway, this sounds like pretty good news. I'm not sure I really see the appeal of T-Mobile in general, especially since there are so many other official network options for your iPhone to live on. But hey, faster speeds for more people is always better.


For me, at least, the appeal is price. My family has four unlocked iPhones on T-Mobile's Value plan. For unlimited texts, minutes, and unlimited (2G) data, we pay $50/line/month. A similar plan on AT&T would cost $90/line/month (2GB data/line).

Even when you factor in the price of an unlocked iPhone ($650), versus AT&T's subsidized price ($200), you still save almost $500 per line over the course of the two year contract. Additionally, if you don't upgrade your phone at the end of the two years, you start saving $525 per line PER YEAR.

I realize that the mobile data speeds are not nearly equivalent, but this is a compromise I'm more than willing to make, especially since I have WiFi at home and work.
Rating: 6 Positives
31 months ago

This can only be the work of Tim Tebow.


…Go Patriots.
:rolleyes::cool:;)
Rating: 5 Positives
31 months ago

thats great news for everyone on tmobile + cheaper

but i rather keep my

Image (http://i44.tinypic.com/azjhas.png)


You have decided to cut out the carrier info at the top...hmm...sure it isn't Wi-Fi?
Rating: 4 Positives
31 months ago
This is why I'd switch to T-Mobile in a heart beat if they officially supported the iPhone.

This is what 3G on the 4S is supposed to look like - I rarely get above 1.5mbit on AT&T in supposed HSPA+ coverage in DC.
Rating: 4 Positives
31 months ago

I hope you watched SNL this weekend.

Anyway, this sounds like pretty good news. I'm not sure I really see the appeal of T-Mobile in general, especially since there are so many other official network options for your iPhone to live on. But hey, faster speeds for more people is always better.


For people who want to be on GSM, but not with AT&T.

(Try switching between two calls with a Verizon iPhone....IT IS A NIGHTMARE! With with T-Mobile/AT&T, just tap on the person's name..on my old VZW iPhone 4, You can't do that, and the swap button sometimes is greyed out, I was forced to hang up and call them back!)
Rating: 4 Positives
31 months ago
This can only be the work of Tim Tebow.
Rating: 4 Positives
31 months ago
If anyone's near NYC and can confirm that we're getting 3G, I'm jumping ship! Can't beat 49.99 per line per month for unlimited everything.
Rating: 4 Positives
31 months ago

I hope you watched SNL this weekend.

Anyway, this sounds like pretty good news. I'm not sure I really see the appeal of T-Mobile in general, especially since there are so many other official network options for your iPhone to live on. But hey, faster speeds for more people is always better.


What happened on SNL in relation to this? I missed it and forgot to record it. :(
Rating: 4 Positives
31 months ago
The iPhone 4S comes with Qualcomm's MDM6610 chip, which supports T-Mobile USA's 1700 MHz HSPA+ 3G band. Apple disabled that support because Apple greedily supported AT&T's attempts to acquire T-Mobile USA and kill off HSPA+ 3G on the 1700 band in order to use the 1700 spectrum for LTE.

Hopefully Apple will pull its head out of its a$$ and create a software update that will stop crippling the iPhone 4S by allowing it to recognize the 1700 MHz band.

Apple's greediness in supporting AT&T is precisely why Android has become so popular and seized so much market share. If Apple had made the iPhone available to T-Mobile USA from the very beginning in 2007, Android would not be anywhere near as popular as it is today. Apple has no one but its greedy self to blame for the rise and massive success of Android. Sure, iOS is a far superior OS in comparison to Android, but by limiting it to one carrier (in greedy hopes for short-term windfall profits), Apple created a vacuum that was begging to be filled by another smartphone OS.

Quit whining about Android, Apple. You, Apple, by your greedy support of AT&T, are to blame for Android's success and market share that could have largely been yours had you made the iPhone available to T-Mobile from the start.
Rating: 3 Positives

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