T-Mobile has announced plans for an expansion of their current 4G network programs. The company says that they have struck a $4 billion deal with Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks in order to improve 4G reception in the United States this year. In addition, T-Mobile says they will conduct their 4G LTE rollout in 2013. Perhaps more important for those looking to use the iPhone on T-Mobile, the company says that they will rollout iPhone-compatible HSPA+ (known as 4G on AT&T) networks bands by the end of this year.
These new iPhone-compatible HSPA+ networks will launch in a “large number of markets,” and these bands are the 1900 MHz spectrum. While T-Mobile says that the Apple iPhone will be technically supported, no deal between Apple and T-Mobile for T-Mobile to officially carry the handset has been announced. Prior to today’s announcement, the last we heard on T-Mobile/iPhone compatibility was from T-Mobile CTO in March of this year. He said:
A nice side benefit of the refarming effort is that our 4G network will be compatible with a broader range of devices, including the iPhone. The other important benefit of our network modernization effort is the coverage improvements it will deliver, especially when it comes to in-home coverage. As we refarm our 1900 spectrum, we will continue to fully support our customers with 2G devices.
Today’s announcement, though, marks T-Mobile’s official commitment to eventually support the iPhone (with or without Apple’s support) and specifics such as a timeframe of “by the end of the year” and vast future availability. In April, T-Mobile said that over one million unlocked iPhones are currently running on their U.S. network. Because the HSPA+ bands will not rollout until later this year, these iPhones are running on T-Mobile’s EDGE (2G) network.