T-Mobile CEO touches on the move to LTE and why his carrier doesn't have the iPhone [UPDATED]

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from Omaha, NE
Published: January 11, 2012

T-Mobile CEO Philipp Humm

Yesterday saw T-Mobile announce some expansions of its HSPA+ 4G network, including a bump up to 42Mbps HSPA+ coverage for some areas. That news is a tad different than the network expansions that we've been hearing about from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint as of late, as those three carriers have been have all been touting their moves to LTE. Just because those three are jumping to LTE doesn't mean T-Mobile feels the need to do the same any time soon, though, as T-Mobile CEO Philipp Humm recently revealed in an interview with All Things D. Humm said that the main benefit of moving to LTE is to ease network crowding, which is an issue that T-Mobile isn't experiencing right now. However, that doesn't mean that we won't eventually see some Magenta LTE, as Humm said that LTE is still in T-Mobile's long-term plans and that the carrier will eventually figure out how to get the spectrum needed for it. "We will evolve over time to LTE," Humm explained. "We just don't see a need to move there very fast."

The Apple iPhone also came up during Humm's chat with All Things D. As I'm sure many T-Mobile customers have noticed, their carrier is now the only one of the big four national U.S. operators without Apple's handset, which Humm stated is due to the fact that his carrier uses a different band than most of the world is on. As for whether or not the iPhone will ever join T-Mobile's roster, the exec explained that chipsets are evolving and allowing for more band support, so the issue that's preventing a T-Mobile iPhone from happening will soon no longer be a problem. Ultimately, though, Humm said that the decision of whether or not to bring a T-Mobile iPhone to market falls on Apple.

Lastly, the T-Mobile CEO touched on the way his carrier handles data usage. While competitors like AT&T and Verizon have recently introduced tiered data plans, T-Mobile has offered plans that won't completely cut a user's data off, but will slow the speeds down after he or she consumes a certain amount of data. Humm said that T-Mobile plans to continue using theses types of data offerings, as it allows customers to continue to consume data without being hit without overages or cut off completely out of nowhere.

Overall it sounds like things are back to business as usual with T-Mobile now that that whole AT&T acquisition thing is dead. The carrier has said in the past that it plans to eventually move to LTE, but that such a move is still a ways off. That may be a disappointment to customers that are watching longingly as AT&T, Sprint and Verizon roll out LTE, but at least T-Mo is working to improve its existing HSPA+ network in the mean time.

As for the iPhone, we won't know for sure whether or not T-Mobile will get its own version of the handset until Apple actually unveils one. with the existence of pentaband chips and the fact that T-Mobile will now continue on its own rather than being consumed by AT&T, though, it could make sense for Apple to release a Magenta-friendly iPhone in the near future. What do you all make of Humm's comments? Are you bummed about what he has to say about LTE? Do you think we'll be seeing a T-Mobile iPhone any time soon? Give us a shout in the comments below!

UPDATE: Well, this is interesting. Speaking with CNET, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray says that he's seen the upcoming chipsets that Apple intends to use in the iPhone and claims that they will support the band that T-Mobile uses for 3G. "The next chipset will support AWS. The challenge that existed in the past will go away," Ray explained. Of course, that doesn't guarantee that T-Mobile will actually release the iPhone, as Ray notes that Apple could still opt not to deal with the carrier, but he suggests that the issue that's prevented the iPhone from being used to its fullest extent on T-Mobile in the past may finally be taken care of in the next model.

UPDATE 2: T-Mobile has reached out to us to clarify that Ray was just saying that there are chipsets available that Apple could use to make the iPhone T-Mobile-friendly, not that he's actually seen the chipset that Apple will end up utilizing.

Via The Verge, All Things D, CNET