After failing to flog off T-Mobile USA to AT&T last year, Deutsche Telecom has gone another route, opting to absorb its smaller rival MetroPCS in a reverse-takeover. The boards of both companies have approved a reverse merger, whereby MetroPCS will take over T-Mobile to form a combined company (called T-Mobile) that is owned 74 …
Not many ways
"help T-Mobile get an iPhone"
Dump 1700 MHz or make it big enough in the market for phone makers to care about supporting it on the higher end phones. As long as that band is only occupied by a small player it's an albatross eating a red herring on a bicycle, or something like that. Most top tier phones like the iPhone aren't 1700 MHz capable which leaves the T-mob owners of such phones stuck with EDGE speeds. Most notably the only maker consistently putting out the best phones on T-mob's network is Samsung and that's been true since the early Palm Pre days.
It's only the iPhone really.
There's a 1700MHz (AWS) version of the Samsung Galaxy S3. There's an AWS version of the HTC One X and One S. Nokia's phones are mostly multi-band including AWS. Apple is the only big hold-out, but this costs T-Mobile dearly, yes.
T-Mobile knows this, and is therefore repurposing the AWS spectrum for LTE, and switching its 3G (HSPA+) network to 1900MHz as 2G GSM (that presently occupies that band) declines. This is compatible with what everybody else is doing. AT&T is rolling out LTE on AWS (as well as 700MHz) and so likely will Verizon at some point. The iPhone 5 supports LTE on AWS already, so once T-Mobile does this they will have a network using the same bands in the same way as AT&T, so the same phones that work on AT&T will work on T-Mobile as well.
This merger gives T-Mobile more AWS spectrum (some of it with LTE deployed in it already), and more 1900MHz spectrum. When the CDMA network being used by MetroPCS is phased out, they will be in a position to have extensive 3G and 4G networks that are compatible with everyone else.
In the short term, T-Mobile will post-merger have a situation where former T-Mobile customers and former MetroPCS customers will be roaming from different 3G networks to the same LTE network, and at some point where the CDMA 3G network of MetroPCS will have to be switched off without too many customers losing coverage. That will be a good trick if they manage it.
Worth pointing out that the claim T-Mobile "relies on HSDPA" for 4G is outdated. T-Mobile has "refarmed" it's bandwidth (as Michael Jennings explains) in at least one city (Las Vegas). If you have an unlocked iPhone 5, T-Mobile will happily set you up with a nano-squinky-femto SIM and you'll enjoy whatever it is people enjoy about iPhones.
(Icon because it's Las Vegas, home of the National Atomic Testing Museum...)
If you're one of the (let's be generous) 1.5 million people living in one tiny area of the USA, and you ask your wireless provider, they'll let you connect your phone to their network. I don't think that makes *anything* said about their network outdated.
Will be interesting to see how they end up merging the CMDA and GSM bands.
FWIW, here's a user driven map showing the current 3G/HSPA+ sightings: http://www.airportal.de
They already announced that MetroPCS's CDMA network will be turned off in 2015.
Re: CDMA dead
Wouldn't be surprised if T-Mobile sets a similar timetable to turn off the HSPA+ bands. By that time, phones like my G-2 will be several years old and likely showing their age. When that time comes, I should be able to transition to a decently-priced LTE phone with no need for a new contract. Two years sounds reasonable, and at least I'll what's coming.