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T-Mobile USA Claims Next iPhone Chipset Will Support Carrier's AWS Bands

With the launch of the iPhone 4S, T-Mobile USA is now the only one of the four major U.S. carriers to not offer the iPhone, due in large part to the carrier's use of the Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum band for its 3G network, a situation that so far would require Apple to develop specific hardware compatible with the network. Some had hoped that the situation would be rectified over time by AT&T's planned acquisition of T-Mobile, but that deal has fallen apart in the face of scrutiny from regulators.


AllThingsD now reports on comments from T-Mobile CEO Philipp Humm again acknowledging that the AWS issue is an important reason for the carrier's lack of the iPhone, but reporting that the issue will be addressed both by migration of T-Mobile's spectrum bands and by new chipsets supporting AWS.
“The key reason we didn’t have the iPhone in the past is we are on different band than globally the market was,” Humm said. “That is something which will change over time. Chipsets are also evolving to be able to allow for more bands.”

As always, though, the decision is up to Apple, Humm acknowledges.
CNET has more on the topic from T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray, who specifically claims that Apple's plans for the next iPhone chipset include support for AWS.
Ray, however, said T-Mobile's unique spectrum would have required extra work to ensure the iPhone ran correctly on its network. But the next chipset that Apple plans to use will be able to overcome that hurdle, he said.

"The next chipset will support AWS," he said in an interview with CNET. "The challenge that existed in the past will go away."

Ray said he has seen the roadmap of chipsets that Apple plans to use, and knows it has that capability. But he noted Apple could choose to ignore that capability and not strike a deal with T-Mobile.
New LTE networks are another factor in the discussion, with rumors suggesting that the iPhone 5 may indeed support the faster technology with greater unification of network standards across carriers. But with LTE still being built out and carriers having achieved varying stages of progress on their efforts, the iPhone and other smartphones will continue to require compatibility with 3G networks as a fallback option where LTE won't yet be available.

Update: In a clarification to 9to5Mac, T-Mobile reports that Ray said only that Apple could use an AWS-capable chipset in a future iPhone model, not that he had specific knowledge of Apple's roadmap.

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

Top Rated Comments

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30 months ago
Man, I *really* hate the stupid marketing names for frequency bands like "PCS" and "AWS".
Rating: 4 Positives
30 months ago

That's great if you pay full price, but what they don't tell you is that the Value plans do NOT include any phone subsidies. You are going to pay either way, either more monthly and less for the phone or less monthly and more for the phone.


Not true:

New contract on Sprint for two lines:
2 4Ss: $400
$150/month for 24 months : $3600
Total: $4000

T-Mobile Value Plan for two lines:
2 4Ss: $1300
$65/month (5GB data cap) for 24 months: $1560
Total: $2860

Total money saved with T-Mobile : $1140

That is quite a bit of money saved! So here is hoping the future version of the iPhone 4S and 5 support AWS.
Rating: 4 Positives
30 months ago
GREAT NEWS

NOW THAT ALL Carriers will have an iPhone, the other carriers will have to all compete again. And it will definitely stir up innovation in the phone industry again.
Rating: 4 Positives
30 months ago

i love how the US has all this different bands yet none seem to work perfectly ^^ why not just stick to one and try to make it better like the rest of the world

Too late. The FCC has already sold these frequencies to various carriers.

The real root of the problem was the FCC letting multiple cellular technologies proliferate, rather than imposing some sort of industry standard.

The EU made a wise decision in stipulating that GSM/UTMS would be the cellular technology deployed. Note that there will always be various frequencies in various parts of the world as legacy services may be occupying any particular part of the spectrum.

The 700MHz North American spectrum (ultimately acquired by Verizon and AT&T) was freed up after analog television terrestrial broadcasting was legally ended.
Rating: 3 Positives
30 months ago
Apple, if your hearing this, please don't upset your future iPhone costumers.
MILLIONS of people are patiently waiting for the iPhone to come to T-Mobile (including me). :)
Rating: 3 Positives
30 months ago
Big thumbs up for this. Would be great to have a nicely priced competitor like T-Mobile with the iPhone. My bill would be $40 less than Sprint for 2 lines on the Value family plan, with unlimited minutes and texts and unlimited data throttled after 2GB. I'd take that in a second.

Here's hoping.
Rating: 3 Positives
30 months ago
I think it's great that T-Mobile is talking up the iPhone but why would apple allow a sinking ship to carry it?

Sure in the end it's about profits but look at sprint who practically put themselves with a big debt burden to get it.

Tmobile just doesn't seem like they could afford it and I highly doubt DT is going to pump even more money into the US considering they still haven't been paid back for the debt that's still owed
Rating: 2 Positives
30 months ago
The Qualcomm radio in the 4S and Verizon iPhone 4 already supports AWS. There's just no accommodation for it hardware, software or firmware. We had this discussion when the Verizon iPhone came out a year ago.
Rating: 2 Positives
30 months ago
I'm still confused as to why people are getting 3G on the 4S then? Is it because of HSPA+? I thought it was restricted to EDGE because of the bands.
Rating: 2 Positives
30 months ago
Does this mean I can finally use 3G data on T-Mobile with my unlocked 4S?
Rating: 2 Positives

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