Apple snubs T-Mobile USA for iPhone 5

iPhone 5

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T-Mobile USA will once again be left out of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5 sweepstakes.

Apple unveiled the iPhone 5, as expected, on Wednesday, but did not include T-Mobile as one of its U.S. carrier partners. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) will carry the phone.

For the first time, Apple will add in LTE connectivity to its premier mobile product, along with HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA. The addition of dual-carrier HSPA+ could, in theory, benefit T-Mobile though, which is making use of the technology on its HSPA+ 42 network.

T-Mobile representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Despite losing out on the iPhone, which executives from T-Mobile and parent Deutsche Telekom have blamed in the past for the company's loss of  postpaid subscribers to competitors, the nation's No. 4 carrier is taking steps to make its network iPhone-ready.  

Earlier this week Suzanne Lowry, T-Mobile's vice president of marketing, said starting Wednesday the company would roll out iPhone 4 demonstration units to its retail stores and train its staff to help customers switch their iPhones to the T-Mobile network. In addition, the company is developing iOS versions of its popular apps such as T-Mobile myAccount, T-Mobile Visual Voicemail and T-Mobile TV. The company already offers an iOS version of its Bobsled VoIP app.

T-Mobile is currently embarking on a $4 billion network modernization effort, in which it will refarm its 1700 MHz AWS spectrum for LTE services and launch HSPA+ service in its 1900 MHz PCS band. The move will allow T-Mobile to offer HSPA speeds to iPhones designed to work on AT&T Mobility's (NYSE:T) network.

According to Lowry, T-Mobile is already starting to turn up its HSPA+ service in the 1900 MHz band in cities such as Seattle, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C. and the New York City metro area. Lowry added that, according to the company's tests, T-Mobile's 1900 MHz HSPA network offered iPhone 4S users 70 percent faster download speeds than AT&T's network.

"If it's HSPA+ 21 or 42 it's a huge advantage to T-Mobile because it has LTE-like speeds," Recon Analytics analyst (and FierceWireless contributor) Roger Entner said. "And the consumer doesn't give a hoot if it's LTE or HSPA+ as long as it's blazingly fast. If you're in a rebanding market, you're as fast with T-Mobile as you are with AT&T." T-Mobile's HSPA+42 network covers 184 million POPs.

T-Mobile estimates its network currently supports around 1 million iPhone users; however, those customers can only access T-Mobile's slower EDGE data network. T-Mobile is hoping to attract more iPhone users with its faster HSPA+ network coupled with its newly introduced unlimited smartphone data plan.

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