Yesterday, 9to5Mac reported that an iPhone user running on T-Mobile’s network had observed the curious phenomenon of 3G connectivity showing up on his device when in the immediate vicinity of the Moscone West convention center where Apple is holding its Worldwide Developers Conference next week. The user, who frequently passes by the convention center, had never seen 3G network support there before.
iPhone users on T-Mobile USA have historically been limited to the carrier’s slower EDGE network due to frequency incompatibility, but late last year the carrier began refarming its spectrum in select areas to move 3G service over to the 1900 MHz frequency band compatible with the iPhone. Just one month ago, T-Mobile announced that it would betaking the initiative nationwide, making the carrier ready for the iPhone by the end of 2012.
In response to the observation of 1900 MHz 3G service showing up specifically at Moscone West to beef up service for its users and speculation that Apple could make some sort of announcement about a T-Mobile iPhone at the event, the carrier issued a statement acknowledging the testing but calling its alignment with Apple’s WWDC keynote “coincidental”.
While upgrading coverage inside the West side of the Moscone Center, T-Mobile has also deployed 4G HSPA+ service in the 1900 MHz band to test the live network on a small scale. As part of the company’s previously announced $4 billion network modernization effort, T-Mobile plans to launch 4G HSPA+ service in the 1900 MHz band in a large number of markets by the end of the year, which will make our 4G network compatible with a broader range of devices, including the iPhone.
NOTE: The time and location of this test is just coincidental.
T-Mobile is the only one of the four major U.S. carriers to not offer the iPhone, due to its current frequency incompatibility, and the carrier has been increasingly disadvantaged as even small regional carriers and prepaid networks have begun rolling out the device to an increasing number of customers.