iPhone on T-Mobile?

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    Posted: 26 December 2011 05:01 PM

    As an inveterate contrarian, and because I have heard no speculation of it anywhere, I get suspicious, and is it not absolutely the very last thing you would expect to hear?  We’ll have to leave it to Pats to explain, but here is the gist of what got me thinking (or suspecting). 

    Now that the AT&T/T-Mobile deal is off, much of AT&T ?s $4Billion dollar write off on the failed deal has to do with a payment to T-Mobile, either in cash or in bandwidth?as per a conversation with a T-Mobile employee today.  While there is speculation that Apple is actually betting on the death of T-Mobile by not giving them the iPhone, there are technical issues involved as well.  Deutsche Telecom is either going to have to step up and invest in T-Mobile or kill it off, or let it die without the iPhone.  The salesperson I spoke with was very knowledgeable.  She said she would personally bank in a major way if they got the iPhone.  Until I showed her this article though, she was unaware that any iPhone could achieve more than 2G data speeds on T-Mobile.  For Android users T-Mobile offers the nation?s cheapest 4G plans.  The spectrum refarming must be going on in Portland tho, because in Eugene, iPhone users can only achieve 2G speeds.  Anybody have an iPhone on T-Mobile and getting 4G speeds??  As usual, the best fix for the problem will be if Apple Inc. does it themselves, as they well may.

    [ Edited: 26 December 2011 05:12 PM by zulu ]      
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    Posted: 26 December 2011 05:08 PM #1

    T-Mobile just has the misfortune of being on a separate 3G frequency that Apple doesn’t seem to want to have anything to do with, combined with having been the #4 US carrier, AFAIK, at least since the iPhone launched.

    I don’t think there’s any disagreement that T-Mo USA is in irreversible decline without (1) an iPhone and/or (2) a buyout.  And Apple adding C-Spire in the interim tells us all we need to know, I think.  Even if T-Mo USA _has_ been negotiating with Apple for an iPhone, Apple has much bigger deals to land.

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    Posted: 26 December 2011 05:17 PM #2

    Mav - 26 December 2011 09:08 PM

    T-Mobile just has the misfortune of being on a separate 3G frequency that Apple doesn’t seem to want to have anything to do with, combined with having been the #4 US carrier, AFAIK, at least since the iPhone launched.

    I don’t think there’s any disagreement that T-Mo USA is in irreversible decline without (1) an iPhone and/or (2) a buyout.  And Apple adding C-Spire in the interim tells us all we need to know, I think.  Even if T-Mo USA _has_ been negotiating with Apple for an iPhone, Apple has much bigger deals to land.

    Bigger deals?  With 33 million subscribers, T-Mobile is bigger than C-Spire which has less than 1 million.  Am I missing something?

    [ Edited: 26 December 2011 05:24 PM by zulu ]      
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    Posted: 26 December 2011 05:25 PM #3

    Yep.

    T-Mo is fairly big but not “compatible” with the iPhone’s supported 3G bands (though it now is in very small pockets).  Apple should have theoretical ability to support the T-Mo 3G band, but maybe it just doesn’t want to bother wasting resources just for one carrier (CDMA having been worth the effort with the larger number of users and Apple’s broader strategy).  Meanwhile, Apple is working on getting China Telecom online with the 4S, while looking to add China Unicom and the big prize, China Mobile.  There may also be T-Mo’s “budget carrier” reputation, implications for demographics, network issues, etc.

    T-Mo is also continuously weakening.  No hurry for Apple to sign up T-Mo, even if it wanted to, if it can get more favorable terms, or maybe even buy T-Mo outright one day rolleyes raspberry.

    C-Spire was interesting but probably a pretty turnkey deal, considering it’s a GSM MVNO or something like that running on common GSM 3G frequencies.

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    Posted: 26 December 2011 05:36 PM #4

    Mav - 26 December 2011 09:25 PM

    Yep.

    T-Mo is fairly big but not “compatible” with the iPhone’s supported 3G bands (though it now is in very small pockets).  Apple should have theoretical ability to support the T-Mo 3G band, but maybe it just doesn’t want to bother wasting resources just for one carrier (CDMA having been worth the effort with the larger number of users and Apple’s broader strategy).  Meanwhile, Apple is working on getting China Telecom online with the 4S, while looking to add China Unicom and the big prize, China Mobile.  There may also be T-Mo’s “budget carrier” reputation, implications for demographics, network issues, etc.

    T-Mo is also continuously weakening.  No hurry for Apple to sign up T-Mo, even if it wanted to, if it can get more favorable terms, or maybe even buy T-Mo outright one day rolleyes raspberry.

    C-Spire was interesting but probably a pretty turnkey deal, considering it’s a GSM MVNO or something like that running on common GSM 3G frequencies.

    Good answer Mav!  Regarding buying T-Mobile tho, I can’t help but wonder why AT&T was willing to pay 39 Billion for T-Mobile for 33 million US customers, when Deutsche Telecom itself has a market cap of only 49 BillionChina Unicom has 150 million subscribers, Deutsche Telecom has 130 million subscribers, and would seem like a better buy than T-Mobile (33 million subscribers), at least for an international company like Apple.

    [ Edited: 26 December 2011 05:43 PM by zulu ]      
  • Posted: 26 December 2011 06:53 PM #5

    zulu - 26 December 2011 09:36 PM

    Regarding buying T-Mobile tho, I can’t help but wonder why AT&T was willing to pay $39 Billion for T-Mobile

    Excellent question.

    I took a superficial look at T-Mobile’s latest Financial Statements, and feel the Company is approaching bankruptcy.

    Of the $21 Billion its Balance Statement show as equity, $12 Billion is Goodwill, which has not been adjusted since end of fiscal 2009 (highly irregular).

    From T-Mobile’s Cash Flow Statement receivables are down, payables are up, and if it wasn’t for a massive reduction in infrastructure investment, net cash for the last quarter would have been negative.  Further T-Mobile’s Long Term Liabilities exceed $21 Billion, but it only has $275 Million in cash (1.3% of total Long Term Liabilities).  T-Mobile’s debt to equity ration is a very weak 2.8:1.

    Additionally, T-Mobile has been bleeding subscribers for the last 5 quarters that I looked at.

    I don’t know what the DOJ and SEC felt was detrimental to the public by ATT’s acquisition. T-Mobile is not a legitimate competitor that will keep ATT and Verizon from “gouging” their respective subscribers.  To do that T-Mobile must have legitimate long term prospects of surviving as an independent concern.

    I would venture that Apple has not struck a deal with T-Mobile because of T-Mobile’s weak financial future.

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    Posted: 27 December 2011 05:52 PM #6

    Mav - 26 December 2011 09:08 PM

    I don’t think there’s any disagreement that T-Mo USA is in irreversible decline without (1) an iPhone and/or (2) a buyout.  And Apple adding C-Spire in the interim tells us all we need to know, I think.  Even if T-Mo USA _has_ been negotiating with Apple for an iPhone, Apple has much bigger deals to land.

    I disagree that T-Mobile is in irreversible decline. Many were arguing the same for Apple when Jobs first came back and T-Mobile is in much better shape today than Apple was than. What is indisputable is 1) T-Mobile is profitable, 2) it added 126, 000 customers last quarter all with the cloud of this AT&T deal hanging over it, 3) it just gained 7 years worth of access on AT&T’s network, and 4) the customers it does have are very loyal (myself included).

    From a common sense perspective, Apple wasn’t going to support T-Mobile with the possibility of this AT&T sale floating in the air. As we learned from Sprint, Apple would have wanted a commitment of a certain amount of phones over a certain amount of years, which T-Mobile couldn’t’ have honored if it weren’t going to be around. Apple wasn’t going to invest in a company that wouldn’t be around. Further, Apple is smart. It is going to spread the bringing on new carriers out to sustain earnings. 

    Apple’s embrace of C-Spire also tells us nothing about Apple’s willingness to embrace T-Mobile as Apple didn’t have to make any changes to the iPhone for it to work on C-Spire’s network as C-Spire is a CDMA network. It uses the same frequencies as Verizon. Either Apple or T-Mobile has to make changes for the iPhone high speed internet abilities to work on T-Mobile.


    Publicly T-Mobile has stated it wants the iPhone. Further, it has said it’s number one problem is not having the iPhone. Now that the AT&T deal is dead, T-Mobile is in a much better position to get the iPhone.

    Further, it seems to already be working on that goal. First, it recently repositioned spectrum so some of the million plus iPhone users already using unlocked iPhones on its network could access 3G. Second, it just gained iPhone compatible 3G and 4G spectrum from AT&T. Moreover, T-Mobile’s CEO recently stated it is selling off unneeded towers to raise funds to acquire high speed spectrum. None of this sounds like a company in death throws.

    Considering all of this, it really is not indisputable that T-Mobile is dying and will not get the iPhone. Realistically, we will know very little until Apple releases another iPhone. If T-Mobile doesn’t get an iPhone in 2012 that is more telling. I for one would be very surprised. I meanwhile will keep using my unlocked iPhones happily on T-Mobile for less money and with better service in my area than my friends on AT&T are experiencing (I don’t’ know any Verizon or Sprint users).

     


    http://www.t-mobile.com/Company/InvestorRelations.aspx?tp=Abt_Tab_InvestorRelations&tsp=Abt_Sub_FinancialReleases

    [ Edited: 27 December 2011 05:56 PM by Terrin ]      
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    Posted: 27 December 2011 06:56 PM #7

    Mav - 26 December 2011 09:25 PM

    Yep.

    T-Mo is fairly big but not “compatible” with the iPhone’s supported 3G bands (though it now is in very small pockets).  Apple should have theoretical ability to support the T-Mo 3G band, but maybe it just doesn’t want to bother wasting resources just for one carrier (CDMA having been worth the effort with the larger number of users and Apple’s broader strategy).  Meanwhile, Apple is working on getting China Telecom online with the 4S, while looking to add China Unicom and the big prize, China Mobile.  There may also be T-Mo’s “budget carrier” reputation, implications for demographics, network issues, etc.

    T-Mo is also continuously weakening.  No hurry for Apple to sign up T-Mo, even if it wanted to, if it can get more favorable terms, or maybe even buy T-Mo outright one day rolleyes raspberry.

    C-Spire was interesting but probably a pretty turnkey deal, considering it’s a GSM MVNO or something like that running on common GSM 3G frequencies.

    If you want a detailed discussion of the AWS band http://www.phonescoop.com/articles/article.php?a=99&p=1492.  This article is dated but covers all the gory details.  As far as the iPhone supporting the AWS band, the current baseband can support but currently is not and would require design work so it won’t just happen without a release.  If we truly get a LTE iPhone in 2012, the freq bands used across the world are all different so it will be difficult to deliver a single SKU with world wide support so we could see regional iPhones IMO.  At that point adding AWS would be easy .

         
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    Posted: 27 December 2011 07:17 PM #8

    Mav - 26 December 2011 09:25 PM

    T-Mo is also continuously weakening.  No hurry for Apple to sign up T-Mo, even if it wanted to, if it can get more favorable terms, or maybe even buy T-Mo outright one day rolleyes raspberry.

    C-Spire was interesting but probably a pretty turnkey deal, considering it’s a GSM MVNO or something like that running on common GSM 3G frequencies.


    First, I am sure Apple buying T-Mobile would go over real well with all the other US carriers. Second, C-Spire was a turn key deal, but you got the wrong reasons why. C-Spire is a CDMA network, the same as Sprint and Verizon. AT&T and T-Mobile are GSM networks.

         
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    Posted: 27 December 2011 07:37 PM #9

    C’mon, Terrin.

    I know you’re a somewhat infrequent poster here, so I’ll take a second to let you know where I stand.  I like Apple sticking to its core business.  I’m ambivalent on Apple making TVs and would prefer it organically grow from its core product portfolio for now.  I would be aghast by Apple buying up a carrier.  I was just pointing out it could with the cash on hand it has.  Same way it could buy Sprint.

    As for C-Spire, actually it has a few GSM folks on the network but yes, I stand corrected on the CDMA part.  I get where you’re coming from with the “Second, C-Spire was a turn key deal, but you got the wrong reasons why” part and I’ll leave it at that.  Please understand, I have no enmity towards T-Mo, I’m a constantly disgruntled AT&T customer.

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    Posted: 27 December 2011 07:44 PM #10

    Terrin, are you in one of those areas where T-Mobile has re-farmed spectrum, so that you are able to get 3G data speeds?  Or if you only get the 2G speeds, do you just get your data mostly from wi-fi?  I am using my iPad micro sim with adjusted APN in my unlocked iPhone 4s, on AT&T and it is working great.  I use Line2 for an incoming phone number, as I hate Google.  Total is $35/mo for 2 gigs, more than enough.  I was a loyal T-Mobile customer for 15 years and want to go back, but would not really like 2G, which the knowledgeable gal here at the mall said is all that can be achieved in our area at this time.  She was surprised to hear about the spectrum re-farming.  As of now it would be a huge surprise to wake up to find T-Mobile in any kind of deal (shhh…don’t say buyout!) with Apple Inc.  And by the way, the iPad sims won’t work on T-Mob, even with an APN change, according to the gal.

         
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    Posted: 27 December 2011 09:24 PM #11

    Mav - 27 December 2011 11:37 PM

    C’mon, Terrin.

    I know you’re a somewhat infrequent poster here, so I’ll take a second to let you know where I stand.  I like Apple sticking to its core business.  I’m ambivalent on Apple making TVs and would prefer it organically grow from its core product portfolio for now.  I would be aghast by Apple buying up a carrier.  I was just pointing out it could with the cash on hand it has.  Same way it could buy Sprint.

    As for C-Spire, actually it has a few GSM folks on the network but yes, I stand corrected on the CDMA part.  I get where you’re coming from with the “Second, C-Spire was a turn key deal, but you got the wrong reasons why” part and I’ll leave it at that.  Please understand, I have no enmity towards T-Mo, I’m a constantly disgruntled AT&T customer.


    Fair enough. As you said, I don’t post here a lot. I lurk mostly.  I just don’t think it serves anybody’s interest to paint T-Mobile’s situation as dire, when it isn’t so clear that it is dire. The next year will probably be far more telling.

         
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    Posted: 27 December 2011 09:47 PM #12

    zulu - 27 December 2011 11:44 PM

    Terrin, are you in one of those areas where T-Mobile has re-farmed spectrum, so that you are able to get 3G data speeds?  Or if you only get the 2G speeds, do you just get your data mostly from wi-fi?  I am using my iPad micro sim with adjusted APN in my unlocked iPhone 4s, on AT&T and it is working great.  I use Line2 for an incoming phone number, as I hate Google.  Total is $35/mo for 2 gigs, more than enough.  I was a loyal T-Mobile customer for 15 years and want to go back, but would not really like 2G, which the knowledgeable gal here at the mall said is all that can be achieved in our area at this time.  She was surprised to hear about the spectrum re-farming.  As of now it would be a huge surprise to wake up to find T-Mobile in any kind of deal (shhh…don’t say buyout!) with Apple Inc.  And by the way, the iPad sims won’t work on T-Mob, even with an APN change, according to the gal.


    No I am not in one of those areas (yet anyway). T-Mobile just started the move last week. So far it has mostly been out West in rural States. I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. So, no I wouldn’t have access to 3G speeds on T-Mobile. With that said, I have two iPhones on T-Mobile. A 3GS and a 4. I don’t have a contract or a data plan. I use strictly wifi. I don’t need data. I have wifi at home, work, and at many places like Starbucks. I get unlimited phone and text for two lines for $70 a month. I use Navigon for GPS functionality (all the maps for the US are stored on the phone, so data is not needed). AT&T would force even an unlocked contract free iPhone to have a data plan whether I need it or not. I would sign up for a T-Mobile contract if I could subsidize two iPhones.

    As far as T-Mobile and the iPad is concerned, I am pretty sure you have been misinformed. T-Mobile sells a micro SIM that is compatible with the iPad. Unless you live in one of the areas with 3G speeds, you would have Edge. Do an Internet search, I found plenty of hits explaining about iPad compatibility on T-Mobile. You can also cut the T-Mobile SIM to size.

    I am happy you are doing good on AT&T. I am stuck with AT&T for my DSL. I dislike the company for 1) poor customer service (I m not talking about the people in the Stores), 2) higher prices, and 3) a willingness to use the money it earns from providing me service to lobby for laws that are anti-consumer.

    [ Edited: 27 December 2011 09:51 PM by Terrin ]      
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    Posted: 28 December 2011 01:51 AM #13

    Terrin - 28 December 2011 01:47 AM
    zulu - 27 December 2011 11:44 PM

    Terrin, are you in one of those areas where T-Mobile has re-farmed spectrum, so that you are able to get 3G data speeds?  Or if you only get the 2G speeds, do you just get your data mostly from wi-fi?  I am using my iPad micro sim with adjusted APN in my unlocked iPhone 4s, on AT&T and it is working great.  I use Line2 for an incoming phone number, as I hate Google.  Total is $35/mo for 2 gigs, more than enough.  I was a loyal T-Mobile customer for 15 years and want to go back, but would not really like 2G, which the knowledgeable gal here at the mall said is all that can be achieved in our area at this time.  She was surprised to hear about the spectrum re-farming.  As of now it would be a huge surprise to wake up to find T-Mobile in any kind of deal (shhh…don’t say buyout!) with Apple Inc.  And by the way, the iPad sims won’t work on T-Mob, even with an APN change, according to the gal.


    No I am not in one of those areas (yet anyway). T-Mobile just started the move last week. So far it has mostly been out West in rural States. I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. So, no I wouldn’t have access to 3G speeds on T-Mobile. With that said, I have two iPhones on T-Mobile. A 3GS and a 4. I don’t have a contract or a data plan. I use strictly wifi. I don’t need data. I have wifi at home, work, and at many places like Starbucks. I get unlimited phone and text for two lines for $70 a month. I use Navigon for GPS functionality (all the maps for the US are stored on the phone, so data is not needed). AT&T would force even an unlocked contract free iPhone to have a data plan whether I need it or not. I would sign up for a T-Mobile contract if I could subsidize two iPhones.

    As far as T-Mobile and the iPad is concerned, I am pretty sure you have been misinformed. T-Mobile sells a micro SIM that is compatible with the iPad. Unless you live in one of the areas with 3G speeds, you would have Edge. Do an Internet search, I found plenty of hits explaining about iPad compatibility on T-Mobile. You can also cut the T-Mobile SIM to size.

    I am happy you are doing good on AT&T. I am stuck with AT&T for my DSL. I dislike the company for 1) poor customer service (I m not talking about the people in the Stores), 2) higher prices, and 3) a willingness to use the money it earns from providing me service to lobby for laws that are anti-consumer.

    Yes, T-Mobile has a sim that works in an iPad, and it costs $30 for 2 gigs ($5 more than AT&T charges), is data only, and supposedly works fine on the iPad, but only at 2G speeds in most areas of the US.  The sales rep told me that many college kids around Eugene (OR) have tried and failed to insert that sim into an iPhone and find any APNs that will enable it to work in an iPhone.

         
  • Posted: 28 December 2011 05:14 PM #14

    zulu - 28 December 2011 05:51 AM

    Yes, T-Mobile has a sim that works in an iPad, and it costs $30 for 2 gigs ($5 more than AT&T charges), is data only, and supposedly works fine on the iPad, but only at 2G speeds in most areas of the US.  The sales rep told me that many college kids around Eugene (OR) have tried and failed to insert that sim into an iPhone and find any APNs that will enable it to work in an iPhone.

    There’s very little point in doing that, when T-Mobile offers a prepaid 3G data-mostly plan for $30/mo that’s been shown to work.
    http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/monthly-4g-plans

         
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    Posted: 28 December 2011 05:27 PM #15

    thecowgoesmoo - 28 December 2011 09:14 PM
    zulu - 28 December 2011 05:51 AM

    Yes, T-Mobile has a sim that works in an iPad, and it costs $30 for 2 gigs ($5 more than AT&T charges), is data only, and supposedly works fine on the iPad, but only at 2G speeds in most areas of the US.  The sales rep told me that many college kids around Eugene (OR) have tried and failed to insert that sim into an iPhone and find any APNs that will enable it to work in an iPhone.

    There’s very little point in doing that, when T-Mobile offers a prepaid 3G data-mostly plan for $30/mo that’s been shown to work.
    http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/monthly-4g-plans

    Hey, good point!  I don’t know why the rep told me that $30 pre paid plan only includes 2 gigs of data though, but there is an asterisk * next to the “5 gig”.  Unrelated but relevant, she explained why the pre-paid plans are not popular…..no roaming.  (Roaming is expensive, and would eat up your pre-paid sim quickly.)  T-Mobile has lots of dead spots where you could jump onto another carrier and roam to make/take an important call, but you can only do that with a contract plan.  In my area, T-Mobile coverage is no problem. 

    Welcome to AFB!

    [ Edited: 28 December 2011 05:29 PM by zulu ]