T-Mobile Gets The iPhone, Loses The Contracts
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
It´s finally happened. Five years after the iPhone debuted exclusively on AT&T, and nearly two years after it became available on Verizon and Sprint, America´s fourth largest carrier will finally be able to offer the iPhone. T-Mobile isn´t just getting the run of the mill iPhone, either. Apple is making a special T-Mobile breed of iPhone, compatible with T-Mo´s spectrum bands, as well as an as of yet unlocked feature in the iPhone 5 called HD Voice. Big Pink will also carry the older 4 and 4S versions of the iPhone, but only in certain markets. These older iPhones have technically always been able to run on T-Mobile´s networks, albeit it at a slower pace. iPhones 4 and 4S sold by T-Mobile will only be able to take advantage of their fastest networks in areas where the carrier has added this extra support.
In an attempt to lure customers from other carriers, T-Mo will also offer contract-free plans and some aggressive subsidies.
Beginning on April 12, T-Mobile customers will be able to buy a 16 GB iPhone 5 for only $99 upfront. The rest of the subsidy is paid out over a 24-month period. This is the closest thing to a contract T-Mobile will offer, and paying for an iPhone this way is even cheaper than buying an unlocked iPhone directly from Apple, as the same iPhone 5 costs $649 when purchased directly from Apple. Big Pink will also sell iPhones 4 and 4S in the same way; the iPhone 4 will cost $14.99 upfront with a $15 monthly charge, while the 4S will cost $69.99 upfront with a $20 per month charge.
Any customer carrying their own unlocked iPhone can bring their device to T-Mobile and take advantage of one of their no-contract plans. These unlocked phones may not work on T-Mobile´s faster LTE or HSPA+ networks, of course.
During their press event on Tuesday, T-Mobile took time to officially announce their new LTE networks in Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Jose and Washington DC. The carrier hopes to serve 200 million customers by the end of the year.
The Deusche Telekom owned-carrier has some catching up to do in terms of their LTE offerings, however. AT&T and Verizon are becoming pros at rolling out LTE coverage and have been doing so for a couple of years. Even Sprint was able to begin rolling out their LTE network last summer. T-Mobile also hopes to use their pending acquisition of MetroPCS to expand their LTE offerings, trading the old AWS spectrum for LTE signals.
The fourth largest carrier also dubbed themselves the “Uncarrier,” replacing their old contract-laden plans with new plans which do not require the same contract. According to the New York Times, T-Mobile customers can now get unlimited minutes, text messages, and 500 megabytes of data for only $50 a month.
For $70 a month, customers can add unlimited data to their package. It´s a move T-Mobile America´s new CEO John Legere claims will save customers loads of money over the span of a typical two-year contract.
“Do you have any idea what you´re paying?” asked Mr. Legere during the New York press event on Tuesday.
“I´m going to explain how stupid we all are because once it becomes flat and transparent, there´s nowhere to hide. You pay so much for your phones, it´s incredible.”