Verizon Wireless (s vz) has long been rumored to be the first carrier other than AT&T (s t) that will offer the iPhone, but Cult of Mac reported last week that T-Mobile USA will likely offer Apple’s iconic gadget during the third quarter of this year. As I discuss in my weekly column over at GigaOM Pro, a T-Mobile iPhone is far more likely than a Verizon version, and if the latest rumors are true, the mobile industry is in for a big shake-up.
Carrying the iPhone would be an especially big coup for T-Mobile, a carrier often overshadowed by its bigger counterparts. The operator, owned by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, would see a surge of iPhone lovers who adore their handsets but hate AT&T’s network. And unlike AT&T, which has done away with all-you-can-eat data plans, T-Mobile offers unlimited voice, text and Internet for only $80 a month, which would surely capture the attention of data-hungry iPhone users. While the iPhone has yet to support HSPA+, future versions could enable users to tap T-Mobile’s 21 Mbps network.
And just as the iPhone would be a huge boost for T-Mobile, the inevitable end of AT&T’s exclusive grip on the gadget would be a massive blow to the nation’s second-largest carrier. Apple has been a godsend for AT&T in recent years; the iPhone accounted for an astounding 3.2 million activations for AT&T in the most recent quarter. AT&T would kiss those kinds of sales goodbye if the iPhone becomes available elsewhere with unlimited plans that are cheaper than AT&T’s capped plans.
There’s still no official word, but the rumors of a T-Mobile iPhone have the whiff of authenticity. If so, the nation’s smallest major carrier is about to get substantially bigger — and AT&T should be preparing for some serious turbulence. Read the full post here.