T-Mobile CEO Philipp Humm talked to Ina Fried of AllThingsD at CES this week about a variety of topics, including the iPhone. Humm confirmed what we all assumed -- T-Mobile didn't get the iPhone because of its unique 3G technology. "The key reason we didn't have the iPhone in the past is we are on different band than globally the market was," said Humm.
Unlike other carriers which use the 850, 900, 1900 or 2100 MHz frequencies, T-Mobile uses the 1700/2100 MHz AWS band for its 3G. Handsets must have a specific chipset with this unique 3G UMTS band to operate on T-Mobile's network. While many manufacturers use this particular chipset and produce phones specifically for T-Mobile, Apple does not.Humm is hopeful this will change, and T-Mobile will eventually get the iPhone. Humm points out that technology changes all the time, and future chipsets may support more bands. Pentaband chipsets, which support all European and US 3G UMTS bands including T-Mobile's, already exist, but only a few phones use this technology. Humm concedes that, in the end, the decision to offer an AWS iPhone for T-Mobile is in Apple's hands.