Analyst Craig Moffett, of Sanford C. Bernstein, revealed in a note to his investors that he believes T-Mobile USA, the nation’s fourth-largest wireless carrier, is likely to make a deal with Apple to begin offering the iPhone in 2013. T-Mobile has struggled to maintain profitable contract customers without the iPhone, and actually lost 510,000 monthly subscribers in the first quarter. Rival companies, AT&T and Verizon Wireless, together gained 688,000 post-paid customers.
Moffett believes that the availability of the iPhone at T-Mobile would likely reduce contract losses “and push Deutsche Telekom U.S. (T-Mobile) to a net revenue growth position much sooner than the market expects.” T-Mobile had planned to bring the iPhone in as part of its merge with AT&T but the agreement didn’t work out and fell through in December.
One reason why T-Mobile doesn’t already offer the iPhone is that it’s network hasn’t been compatible with any of the current iPhones. This is beginning to change, though, as Deutsche Telekom has pledged $1.4 billion towards upgrading U.S. networks.
T-Mobile’s additional bandwidth has helped move the company towards upgrading its network to support iPhone-compatible 4G HSPA+ standard by expanding operations in the 1900 MHz spectrum. Moffett’s report is consistent with T-Mobile’s expansion efforts and solving frequency issues, which CEO Phillip Humm has said is the main reason the company doesn’t already offer the iPhone.
Neither Apple nor T-Mobile has offered any comments on the possibility of T-Mobile offering the iPhone in 2013, so there’s nothing to do but wait and see if the iPhone will really come to T-Mobile or not.