Kaufman Bros analyst Shaw Wu threw his hat in the ring on Thursday with an answer to one of the mobile industry’s favorite questions of the season: Which US carrier will be next to get their hands on Apple’s popular iPhone?
According to Wu, the answer is likely T-Mobile USA, a distant fourth in the cutthroat US mobile service market.
This would be a surprise, as most of the rumors have surrounded Verizon Wireless, a Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc venture, because that company is the market leader and has made no secret of its desire to get the Apple phone on its shelves.
But Wu says T-Mobile USA may be the best candidate to get the phone first because it uses the same network technology as AT&T Inc, currently the exclusive US iPhone provider. While Verizon Wireless has more customers than T-Mobile USA, its network runs on a technology that Apple currently does not support. Interestingly enough, Wu said, the newest version of iPhone would also work on 2100 Mhz frequency of wireless spectrum, which T-Mobile USA uses.
“While the general consensus is around Verizon (which we believe will happen evenutally) we continue to believe that T-Mobile USA is the most likely candidate given its use of similar cellular technology (to) AT&T.”
Another factor in T-Mobile USA’s favor is that it needs the iPhone badly enough that it may be most ready to agree to any kind of demands Apple cares to put on the table. Verizon Wireless keeps adding customers.