AT&T deal won't mean iPhones for T-Mobile users yet

Until the deal clears all regulatory hurdles, T-Mobile is still considered an independent company

Giddy T-Mobile users hoping to get their hands on an iPhone shouldn't hold their breath.

Even though AT&T announced its intention to acquire T-Mobile this week in a $39 billion blockbuster merger, T-Mobile says that it has no plans to support the Apple iPhone on its network in the near future. The reason, the company says, is that the AT&T deal isn't expected to be finished for at least another year and T-Mobile thus "remains an independent company."

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ANALYSIS: AT&T's $39 billion T-Mobile buyout raises regulatory, competitive and customer service questions

AT&T had served as the iPhone's exclusive carrier for nearly four years before Verizon announced its support for a CDMA version of the device earlier this year. AT&T and T-Mobile both currently use the GSM-based HSPA+ technology for their wireless data networks and both carriers plan on launching their own LTE-based wireless services across the country over the next two years. Thus, if T-Mobile were to get an iPhone, it would likely be the same GSM-based version used by AT&T customers.

For the time being, AT&T's HSPA+ network offers significantly faster data speeds for iPhone users than Verizon's 3G EV-DO Rev. A network. The team at Speedtest.net compiled data earlier this year from its website's own iPhone application and found that AT&T's 3G network offers iPhone users downloads that are twice the speeds on Verizon's network. Per Speedtest, AT&T iPhone users get an average download speed of 1.77Mbps and an average upload speed of 0.73Mbps, while Verizon iPhone users get an average download speed of 0.85Mbps and an average upload speed of 0.51Mbps.

The fact that AT&T's 3G network is so much faster than Verizon's shouldn't come as much of a surprise since the carrier has been investing heavily in upgrading its 3G network to HSPA+ technology that offers maximum theoretical download speeds of 7.2Mbps. Verizon, meanwhile, has been letting its CDMA-based 3G network stand pat while it's been plowing money into getting its 4G LTE network up and running. Once both Verizon and AT&T have LTE in more major markets by next year it will be easier to conduct more of an apples-to-apples test to see who has the faster network.

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This story, "AT&T deal won't mean iPhones for T-Mobile users yet" was originally published by NetworkWorld.

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