AT&T More Likely To Lose iPhone Exclusivity To T-Mobile

iPhone to launch on TMobile before Verizon

AT&T announced a major change in their Early Termination Fee policy last month, which saw the ETF for higher end devices like the iPhone nearly double from $175 to $325. The hike in ETF was seen as a way for AT&T to prevent mass migration of subscribers when the carrier loses its iPhone exclusivity.

We've also heard rumors of a possible launch of a Verizon iPhone later this year.

However, according to Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu, there is a greater likelihood for the iPhone to launch on T-Mobile later this year. Wu points out to a few factors that indicates such a possibility. 

Most notably, Wu underlines the similarity in cellular technology between the 3G networks of AT&T and T-Mobile. The 3G service on T-Mobile supports 1700MHz and 2100MHz frequencies, which is optimal for iPhone 4. This network compatibility would mean that the technicalities for the launch are already worked out. 

While Wu does not rule out the possibility of an iPhone on Verizon, he notes that a launch on a compatible network like T-Mobile is more likely in the short term because Apple is in an urgent need to launch the iPhone on multiple carriers. This is in order to curtail the growth of Android, which is steadily establishing itself as a strong competitor in the smartphone segment. 

"Our sources also indicate that one of the key reasons why Apple is more open to adding U.S. carriers in 2011 is to attack Android more directly. Looking at industry data, Android's wins have been where iPhone isn't available and that could change dramatically if the iPhone were available on more carriers."

This is not the first time an analyst has predicted the launch of iPhone on T-Mobile. In December last year, Thomas Weisel analyst, Doug Reid had noted that Verizon's allegiance to the Android platform could mean that the iPhone may launch on T-Mobile. Such a partnership is not only likely to help Apple fight Android, but also help T-Mobile in its desperate bid to reach out to more customers. Wu writes that the desperation on part of T-Mobile could mean that the carrier is more likely to agree to Apple's terms. 

T-Mobile has not commented on Wu's statements. Will you switch to T-Mobile if it offers iPhone 4 or still stick with AT&T? 

[via Apple Insider]