Sprint (NYSE:S) CFO Joe Euteneuer confirmed that Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) newest iPhones, the iPhone 5s and 5c, do not support LTE on 2.5 GHz spectrum, which Sprint will use for a nationwide TD-LTE deployment.
"We don't control their product roadmap. I wish we did," he said Wednesday at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference.
Euteneuer's comments came after China's Telecom Equipment Certification Center showed on Wednesday that Apple received what is known as a "network access license" for a handset resembling the iPhone that runs on the mobile standards used by China Mobile for 3G and TD-LTE networks. Apple's iPhone 5c model A1529 and iPhone 5s model A1530 both support TD-LTE in Bands 38, 39 and 40 (2.6 GHz, 1900 MHz and 2.3 GHz, respectively). Those are the bands China Mobile has authorized for its TD-LTE network thus far. Apple has not yet formally announced a deal with China Mobile.
It's not clear if or when Apple will add TD-LTE support for Band 41, which lies in 2.5 GHz spectrum. China Mobile has said starting next year it will require its TD-LTE devices to support Band 41.
Despite that setback, Euteneuer said he expects the iPhone to drive excitement and gross customer additions at Sprint in the fourth quarter. Euteneuer also indicated that Sprint has other smartphones in development that will be able to take advantage of the 2.5 GHz spectrum it acquired along with Clearwire in July.
The Sprint CFO said that Sprint expects to deploy TD-LTE technology across 5,500 Clearwire cell sites by the end of the year, and will continue to roll that technology out across the nation next year. Euteneuer said the carrier will focus first on specific parts of cities and then across entire markets. "When you see that 2.5 [GHz spectrum being deployed], that's when you'll really get that speed differential that we've been touting," he said.
Euteneuer said that Sprint's network team has been working closely both with Clearwire CTO John Saw and network engineers at parent SoftBank, which already offers 2.5 GHz TD-LTE service in Japan.
Sprint will continue to emphasize the simplicity of its unlimited smartphone data plans in its marketing, as well as its improving network, Euteneuer said. As Sprint ramps up its deployment of 2.5 GHz spectrum, he hinted that the move could give Sprint an opportunity to change its pricing, though he was short on details. He said the 2.5 GHz rollout could allow Sprint to explore "what's your premium services vs. what's not a premium service."
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