T-Mobile has been absent from Apple’s official list of carrier partners for the iPhone in the U.S., even as its competitors like Verizon, Sprint and other regional carriers caught on with AT&T, and started offering the iPhone in the past couple of years.
Despite its 3G network being incompatible with the iPhone, T-Mobile carriers more than a million iPhones on its network. The company aims to considerably increase this number, with its newly announced marketing push targeted towards unlocked iPhone users coupled with its shift to an iPhone compatible 4G HSPA+ network.
As a part of an initiative titled “Bring your own iPhone,” T-Mobile will be offering considerably cheaper plans for unlocked iPhones along with an unlimited data subscription, which many U.S. carriers have stopped offering.
T-Mobile’s $70/month unlimited talk, text and data plan would be $50 cheaper than a comparable plan offered by AT&T, the company says in the announcement. Since there’s no pressure on T-Mobile to recover the actual cost of a subsidised iPhone, the company can afford to offer much cheaper plans than other carriers.
There’s a big catch in its unlimited data plan, though. Since T-Mobile’s transition to an iPhone compatible 4G HSPA+ network isn’t done yet, subscribers would have to deal with 2G speeds, making modern tasks like video streaming next to impossible. Areas like Seattle, Las Vegas, Washington DC and the New York metro area already have starting seeing T-Mobile’s iPhone compatible 4G networks, but the transition process might go beyond this year.
Our internal tests of unlocked iPhone 4S devices running over 4G (HSPA+) on our 1900 network recorded on average 70% faster download speeds than iPhone 4S devices on AT&T’s network.
Along with all these network related offerings, T-Mobile would also be developing iOS apps for visual voicemail, subscriber accounts, and mobile TV.
The plan would be available from September 12th, the day Apple will announce the iPhone 5, which the company isn’t expected to carry officially.