T-Mobile today presented its Q4 earnings as well as a new strategy for how to proceed after the AT&T merger failure. What got most attention in the new strategy was that T-Mobile has committed to launching 4G/LTE services during 2013 in the AWS band. They are able to do so with the new spectrum they received as part of the break-up of the merger with AT&T.
What is more interesting, especially for existing T-Mobile customers, is that after the re-farming of spectrum in the network, the iPhone and other phones will suddenly become compatible with the T-Mobile network. This is not the same thing as T-Mobile actually negotiating an agreement with Apple to sell the iPhone even though that is quite likely to happen as well. However, the hard-core T-Mobile users who bought their own iPhones and outfitted them with T-Mobile SIM-cards now will now finally see that 3G symbol in their display instead of E (2.5G) and experience the much faster data speeds.
Today T-Mobile uses the PCS (1900Mhz) spectrum for 2G GSM services and their AWS (1700Mhz) spectrum for 3G HSPA+. After the re-farming of the network as well as the additional AWS spectrum received from AT&T the PCS band will host 3G HSPA+ (as well as some 2G GSM) and the AWS band will be devoted to 4G LTE. This is an oversimplification but more or less how it will turn out.
This will align the spectrum holdings of T-Mobile with global and national standards, making it possible to use a wider range of devices on their network. So far, they (and the other US carriers) have been forced to pay a high price for FCCs difficulties with harmonizing US spectrum with the rest of the world.