The only one of the Big Four U.S. carriers that doesn’t offer Apple’s iPhone is T-Mobile. This is going to change soon, if a report from an industry analyst at Merrill Lynch is correct.
Scott Craig sent a note to investors today that said “speculation is heightening” that T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telecom will reveal next week that they have come to an agreement with Apple.
There have been rumors for years that T-Mobile will be getting the iPhone, but these have never born fruit, mostly because of the very high cost. For example, it cost Sprint $15.5 billion to offer this device.
Much of this comes from the handsets — carriers buy these from Apple, and then sell them to customers at a much lower price. The carrier makes this money back — a portion of each month’s wireless service fee goes to this, but it takes a couple of years.
No matter the financial burden, carriers pay it because the iPhone is such a popular smartphone. T-Mobile is losing customers because it lacks this device. “We recognize that it has been a point of churn for us,” T-Mobile COO Jim Alling said recently.
Even though the carrier doesn’t offer Apple’s smartphone, over 1.5 million of its subscribers use this device. They buy unlocked units — frequently previously-owned ones designed for AT&T — and use them with T-Mobile’s network.