The wait is finally over. T-Mobile USA will begin offering Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) LTE-capable iPhone 5 for the first time today, making it the last of the four major U.S. carriers to add the iconic device in its portfolio. To push the news, T-Mobile is launching an aggressive campaign to attract customers that includes offering shoppers an installment plan to purchase the phone and letting existing iPhone customers trade in their devices for the T-Mobile model.
Early response to T-Mobile's deal appears promising. According to BTIG analyst Walt Piecyk, a T-Mobile USA store in New York City had a line of customers outside waiting to purchase the device.
Customers with good credit can buy the iPhone 5 from T-Mobile for $100 down and 24 monthly payments of $20. This is a departure from the traditional wireless phone model in which operators subsidize the cost of the phone in exchange for a two-year contract.
T-Mobile is promoting its iPhone 5 in a new commercial.
In addition, T-Mobile is letting existing iPhone users to switch to T-Mobile's network. For those customers who bring in their existing iPhones, T-Mobile said it would eliminate the $99 fee for its iPhone 5. And, depending on the trade-in value of the customer's iPhone, T-Mobile said it would also issue up to $120 in credit that customers could apply to their monthly service bill, device payments or the purchase of accessories or another device.
The company also has launched an aggressive advertising campaign that promotes the company's new image as the "uncarrier." TV and radio advertisements tout T-Mobile's iPhone 5 launch. According to TMoNews, the company has purchased airtime on radio stations in Orlando, Fla.; Seattle; Philadelphia; Denver; Dallas; New York City; and more.
T-Mobile also appears to be running an aggressive ad campaign on YouTube, noted BTIG's Piecyk. Based on published reports, T-Mobile's YouTube ad campaign could cost as much as $400,000 a day, Piecyk said.
T-Mobile has said its version of the iPhone 5 will support its LTE and HSPA bands, which means that Apple has designed a unique version of the phone for T-Mobile's network. However, the carrier's iPhone 4S and 4 will not carry the same configuration, and as a result those devices will only be available in "select" markets and channels.
T-Mobile's LTE network in now live in seven markets on its 1700 MHz AWS spectrum, including Baltimore; Houston; Kansas City; Las Vegas; Phoenix; San Jose, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. T-Mobile CEO John Legere has said that New York City will be online with LTE by early summer. The carrier plans to cover 100 million POPs with LTE by mid-2013 and 200 million by year-end. Legere has also said that when T-Mobile merges with MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS), T-Mobile will be able to deploy 2X20 MHz LTE in 90 percent of the top 25 U.S. markets.
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