iPhone-Related Customer Churn an 'Area of Concern' for T-Mobile USA

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As highlighted by AllThingsD, T-Mobile USA acknowledged yesterday in discussion of its third quarter earnings that the lack of an iPhone 4S offering for the carrier may have an impact on customer retention, labeling churn rates as an "area of concern".

“Earnings improved as we continued to focus on making smartphones affordable to all Americans through our unlimited Value plans, improvements to our 4G network, and an expanding portfolio of 4G devices,” T-Mobile USA CEO Philipp Humm said in a statement. “Discipline on the cost side contributed to year-on- year margin improvement, while postpay churn, in particular related to the iPhone 4S launches by competitors, will continue to be an area of concern.”

With Sprint adding the iPhone last month, T-Mobile is the last of the four major U.S. carriers to not offer the device, putting it at a significant disadvantage due to the iPhone's popularity. T-Mobile USA has issued several public statements about its lack of an iPhone offering, acknowledging that the decision on a T-Mobile iPhone is up to Apple while touting other smartphone devices it does carry.

The iPhone's absence on T-Mobile is due in large part to the carrier's network technology, which while being the same GSM standard used in the rest of the world, runs on different frequency bands from most other GSM carriers. Consequently, Apple would have to develop modified hardware to support T-Mobile's network, something the company has so far declined to do on more than a prototype basis.

Also likely affecting Apple's plans are questions over the long-term fate of T-Mobile, as AT&T is currently in the process of trying to acquire the carrier. Should the acquisition be approved, AT&T would in time merge the networks of the two carriers and with the move to LTE, a separate iPhone supporting T-Mobile USA's current standards would eventually become unnecessary.

Top Rated Comments

cvaldes Avatar
120 months ago
Those gray-market iPhones have voice service as well as the slower EDGE data, not 3G data.

The MacRumors article is incorrect. T-Mobile USA uses the same GSM frequencies as AT&T. It's the UTMS/HSPA frequencies that are non-standard.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
andiwm2003 Avatar
120 months ago
i hope the FCC allows them to use the other GSM frequencies. It's absolutely anti free market to have a monopoly of ATT on these frequencies. As customer you have no choice than to sign up with ATT as soon as you have a GSM phone.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dodge this Avatar
120 months ago

I just left T-Mobile after 13 years for Verizon and an Iphone 4s this week.


I left Verizon for T Mobile after floating along for months post contract, hoping they would get the iPhone.

They didn't.

Just got done paying my ETF with TMobile after going into a Sprint store last night and getting an iPhone 4s. If they were concerned with churn, they sure didn't sound like it. When i was on Sprint before and jumped to Verizon, Sprint offered me everything and the kitchen sink to stay with them. Tmoble - not a single fluck was given.

I will miss seeing the T Mobile hunny everywhere. I won't miss the crappy reception tho...
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kwikdeth Avatar
120 months ago

I have not seen any confirmation that the iPhone 4S has a baseband processor that supports the AWS frequency. Please cite a source if you think otherwise.

In addition to a compatible baseband that supports the AWS frequency, the handset would also need a power amp for that frequency.

well the original suspicion was that the 4S would carry the same chipset as the Verizon 4, which is the Qualcomm MDM6600, which does have baseband support for AWS frequencies:

http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php/1701388-New-Gobi-chip-in-Verizon-s-iPhone-4-supports-1700Mhz

You can clearly see AWS as available in WCDMA section.
Now, two things, you are correct in that its useless for the baseband to support it if there is no radio hardware to go along with it. Secondly, the 4S uses the undocumented "MDM6610" variation, and who knows if it covers the same breadth of bands that the 6600 does.
My suspicion is that if they wanted to enable an iPhone 4S for tMobile, it would come at the cost of some other bandwidth, as in, it would be a phone that only worked with ATT and tMobile but not CDMA, or CDMA and AWS. It might have been too cost prohibitive to develop a phone that could work on all three technologies simultaneously.

[edit] i think my suspicion is confirmed by text on the bottom of that graphic, "Only specific band combinations are supported by each software build"
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
carlvz Avatar
120 months ago
Ask Apple to offer T-Mobile the next iPhone

Hey all. I am also a T-Mobile customer.

Do you want Apple to offer T-Mobile the next iPhone? Tell them.

Go to
http://www.apple.com/feedback/iphone.html

Tell them you would buy a new iPhone if it was offered for T-Mobile.
It's important that they know that their customers want this.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cvam1985 Avatar
120 months ago
Really makes you wonder if it was some sort of conspiracy involving AT&T's acquisition plans. Then again , doesn't TMo WANT to be acquired?

How hard really would it have been to include AWS support? And has it been officially proven that the 4S doesn't ? Thought I read somewhere a software patch could theoretically enable it as some thought the 4S has the right hardware
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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