Fresh reports are coming in that suggest that AT&T may lose its exclusive carrier status in the US as early as this fall. However, unlike popular speculations, it is not Verizon, but T-Mobile USA that may carry the iPhone.
Folks at CultofMac have received a tip from a "highly placed" T-Mobile source that talks between the two companies are at an advanced stage and it's 80% likely that the iPhone may launch on T-Mobile in Q3 2010.
You may note that Apple is already in partnership with T-Mobile's parent company, Deutsche Telekom, for sale of iPhones in countries like Germany and the UK. The source reveals that the existing partnership between the two companies may have influenced Apple's decision to open up the iPhone to T-Mobile in the American market. T-Mobile is currently the fourth largest carrier in the US with a subscriber base of nearly 33.7 million.
This is not the first time T-Mobile is being touted as a potential iPhone carrier in the US. Late last year, Thomas Weisel analyst Doug Reid had predicted a possible partnership between Apple and T-Mobile in the wake of Cupertino's growing rivalry with Verizon. However, there is more reasoning to this prediction. Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu had pointed out last month that the similarity in cellular technology between AT&T and T-Mobile could be an important reason why Apple may choose T-Mobile over Verizon as a carrier for iPhone in the US.
There are a few technical issues that may have to be sorted out though. T-Mobile's 3G network operates on the 1700/2100 band. However, the iPhone is currently known to only work on the 2100 band. This incompatibility has also meant that users who unlock their iPhones to run on T-Mobile can only use the carrier's Edge network and not the 3G network for data access. It is however speculated that Apple may have chosen to not list the 1700 band in its official iPhone 4 technical specification list.
As expected, Apple and T-Mobile have declined to comment on the latest speculations. Would you prefer T-Mobile or prefer to stick with AT&T?
[via Cult of Mac]