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.
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