[Photo Credit: TUAW]
The prepaid iPhone has become one of the hottest smartphone deals to bring in sales for the prepaid phone market. The iPhone, once considered an item exclusive to two-year contract agreements with Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and AT&T, has now further penetrated into the consumer market — bringing a beloved item to many who could not afford it otherwise. It may seem counter-intuitive to some, but two-year contracts often rack up two three times the price of a two-year, prepaid agreement plan.
Solavei just announced its iPhone 5 nano-SIM for iPhone 5 users, allowing T-Mobile’s virtual network operator to get one up on some of the prepaid iPhone carriers. Solavei’s acquisition of the iPhone 5 nano-SIM is a foreshadowing of T-Mobile’s good news to come: the nation’s fourth-largest carrier is soon to get the iPhone 5S, Apple’s soon-to-be newly-announced seventh generation iPhone. T-Mobile’s CEO John Legere said to representatives at the Deutsche Telekom meeting in December that T-Mobile was making strides in its LTE networks and towers, but something was still missing: the iPhone. T-Mobile’s announcement that it has struck a partnership with Apple to carry the iPhone 5 this year (2013) is good news for many iPhone users on T-Mobile’s network who have experienced T-Mobile’s somewhat slower speeds (2G EDGE for many, depending on geographic location). T-Mobile’s 3G network is not compatible with the iPhone, so T-Mobile customers have had to endure 2G instead of 3G. T-Mobile’s efforts to make its network compatible with the iPhone will, along with T-Mobile’s low, unlimited plan pricing, put T-Mobile ahead of the competition.
Aside from T-Mobile and Solavei, the iPhone is still making inroads. Strata Networks, a small, prepaid carrier with branches in Colorado, Idaho, and Utah, will get the iPhone 5 soon. Strata Networks recently started building its LTE network, and, like T-Mobile, will provide 2G/3G service until its LTE infrastructure is completed. Strata Networks does not yet have its LTE network running to the extent that the iPhone 5 can work on its network, but the Utah-based company wants interested individuals to sign up to be notified when the iPhone 5 makes its way to the carrier. If you live in the vicinity of Strata within Utah, Idaho, and Colorado,
Consumers who live in the western United States will certainly benefit from Strata Networks’ acquisition of the iPhone 5. At the same, the company may want to pay attention to recent iPhone 5 news. Cricket Wireless, owned by parent company Leap Wireless, has not had any stroke of good fortune with the iPhone 5. Last fall, when the carrier announced that it would sell the iPhone 5, Cricket seemed positive about its partnership with Apple. However, after some six months of selling the coveted iPhone, Cricket now fears that it will lose some $100 million in sales because few customers have purchased the iPhone 5. Cricket’s contract is up with Apple this summer (2013), and the small carrier may decide to break with any future partnership with Cupertino over the iPhone. Boost Mobile was reported to be next in line for the iPhone, but has not been in the news as of late and may not even receive the iPhone before some time in the gradual future.
T-Mobile, on the other hand, has made a wise choice in acquiring the iPhone 5 with Apple. After all, T-Mobile lost 700,000 customers in the 2012 Fall quarter due to the fact that the Deutsche Telekom carrier did not own or sell the iPhone 5. When Apple announced the iPhone 5 and knew that AT&T would sell the iPhone 5 on an expensive contract ($80 and up), T-Mobile announced that it acquired iPhone 5 nano-SIM cards and would provide them for iPhone 5 users who signed up with the nation’s fourth-largest carrier. T-Mobile has not only sold iPhone 5 nano-SIMs as of last fall, but has also wooed iPhone 4S and 5 users to its network. I have been with T-Mobile for four months now, and can say that I have enjoyed my service so far. I will admit it: I live in an area where I experience 2G EDGE more often than I experience HSPA+ speeds, but 2G seems to work fine for me. I do get a certain amount of 4G data each month with my plan (500MB of 4G data on a $50 unlimited plan), and it is enough for me. I have another virtual network operator I turn to for 5GB of additional, 4G data for movies and web surfing. When T-Mobile gets its LTE network in more cities and locations, I may decide to let go of my MVNO altogether.
As for T-Mobile, the carrier has taken steps beyond producing additional LTE towers; T-Mobile saw its first LTE smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S3, approved this week by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The phone will have HSPA+ support (850, 1700, and 1900Mhz bands) and will come to T-Mobile this coming March 27th. T-Mobile customers, stay tuned to breaking T-Mobile news so that you do not miss this historic opportunity to purchase the first LTE device sold by AT&T’s most formidable foe.