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T-Mobile, America’s fourth-largest carrier, is the only major national provider that still doesn’t offer Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone. That handicap lost the carrier 700,000 subscribers after the launch of the iPhone 4S last fall. While its 3G networks are not compatible with the technology used by the Apple smartphone, it received another setback when its acquisition by AT&T (NYSE:T) last year was stopped by the government. AT&T had hoped to use T-Mobile’s spectrum to build out its 4G LTE networks.
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With Apple almost ready to launch its next-generation phone, the Deutsche Telekom subsidiary has been working feverishly over the past year to build out new 4G technologies that are compatible with the iPhone. While it can now support unlocked iPhones on its recently built HSPA+ service, Apple does not seem sufficiently impressed yet to make an official deal with T-Mobile.
In an interview with GigaOM, T-Mobile’s chief technology officer Neville Ray said iPhone 4S devices on the company’s new 4G network were already operating 70 percent faster that on AT&T’s LTE system. Ray added that T-Mobile was in the process of building support for dual-carrier HSPA+, which can support speeds up to 42 Mbps. While the iPhone 4S can only work on HSPA+ up to 14.4 Mbps, the new iPad has support for dual-carrier networks and the iPhone 5 may include the feature, too. T-Mobile is also planning to build out the more traditional 4G LTE service next year.
At the same time, having received no love from Apple, the company’s has publicly tried to downplay the iPhone and instead recommends Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android-based alternatives. But with T-Mobile declaring its intentions to aggressively court users of unlocked iPhones in the holiday quarter and its technical changes, Apple will likely soon be forced to pay attention to the carrier.
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