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Even though it’s never officially offered the device, T-Mobile has long supported the iPhone(s aapl) on its 2G networks by simply selling its customers SIM cards they can slot into their handsets. The new iPhone 5, however, uses new nano-SIM technology – try as hard as you like but you won’t be able to cram a T-Mo SIM into the Apple(s aapl) device.
Apparently that will change in mid-October. Both TMoNews and The Verge have tracked down information suggesting T-Mobile will begin selling the nano-SIM in mid-October. TMoNews got its hands on internal T-Mobile SIM materials that show that nano-card will be available mid-next month, and The Verge spotted a tweet from T-Mobile customer service stating T-Mobile is “looking at getting them mid October.”
This is hardly a surprise since T-Mobile has been actively luring iPhone owners of all makes over to its network where they can wallow in the carrier’s unlimited and cheap big-bucket data plans. The big catch is that in most of T-Mobile’s footprint customers can only access 2G speeds on the iPhone. Gobs of cheap data aren’t much use if you can only download them at sub-dial-up speeds.
But that’s changing, and quickly. T-Mobile is overhauling its networks, aligning them with the 3G and 4G radios embedded in the iPhone and most other North American GSM devices. iPhone customers can already access its HSPA+ network in New York City, Las Vegas and Seattle, and T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray has said the carrier will have a “material” footprint of HSPA+ in iPhone friendly bands by the end of the year. (Ray will share more details on T-Mobile’s network transformation at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference next week).
In the second half of 2013, T-Mobile’s LTE network will be online, giving it full compatibility with all of the iPhone’s radios. So if you can’t wait until T-Mobile officially lands an iPhone distribution deal and are willing to shell out the hefty price for an unlocked device, we suggest you buy the AT&T(s t)/North American version of the device. It’s the iPhone that will be exactly where T-Mobile’s networks are in 2013.