It’s the era of data as the iPhone 5 release date approaches, which will be enough to make some longtime iPhone users queasy at the thought of making the transition. As the concept of always-on mobile network connections becomes more commonplace, fast reliable unlimited data plans are more of a necessity than ever. Trouble is, they don’t exist. 4G is still creeping its way into existence and still won’t be nearly as fast as the typical home broadband connection, so cross out the “fast” part. Reliable? Not in the United States. And “unlimited” just took yet another hit. After AT&T ended unlimited data plans for new customers, Verizon attempted to steal iPhone business by offering an unlimited data plan with the Verizon iPhone 4. But heading into the Here’s more on the iPhone 5 era, that’s over – and Verizon just made it official.
Those who want the Verizon iPhone 5 are in for a surprise on its release date if they’ve become accustomed to their long-running unlimited iPhone data plan on AT&T. Now, a change in carriers will mean having to watch their data usage not just each month but essentially each day, as those who have never tracked their data usage over the years might be shocked to find that their typical usage places them over any of the limited data plans Verizon offers. And that’s not so cool in an era in which Apple is pushing iCloud and its increased mobile network usage, even as Verizon is pushing the faster 4G LTE network while conveniently leaving out the fact that the 4G era is set to be just as capped as the outgoing 3G era.
Meanwhile, one Beatweek reader named Dave offers an interesting take on the prospect of either Verizon or AT&T pushing Apple into including 4G LTE in the iPhone 5, and he’s rather firmly against it: “I don’t think it will happen unless they have been able to shrink them to fit the form fact that apple designs. No way Apple is going to make a phone as fat as theThunderbolt or Charge to get LTE. As far as battery life, assuming that new LTE chips sets aren’t less power hungry than those that came out in March, just make it so you can turn off LTE when you don’t need it. If they do use it, they could just put it in Verizon and put HSDPA+ in AT&T.; That way AT&T; can advertise it as “4G” even though it isn’t close to as fast as LTE (t-mobile HSPDA+ is pretty fast so I don’t know what AT&Ts; problem is). Just like AT&T; and Verizon advertised 3g eventhough verizon’s 3g wasn’t nearly as fast as AT&Ts.; Verizon LTE will be in quite a few major population areas by the end of 2011. It already has most major cities east of the Mississippi. Alternatively, they could put the LTE chipset in the AT&T; version and call it 4G and LTE ready. One other thought. What good is LTE with capped data plan? If you use LTE for its supposed benefits–faster video, downloading larger files–then you just use up all your data. Do you really need LTE so your web page loads 2 seconds faster?” Here’s more on the iPhone 5.
It’s all in the wording. The impossibly overhyphenated AT&T-T-Mobile merger has customers of the former thinking that it could send 4G networking their way sooner, while suddenly spun-around customers of the latter are left thinking “Well, at least maybe now we’ll get the iPhone 5 out of it” or even “Good thing Verizon will also have the iPhone 5, since I’m not sticking around and getting pulled into the realm of AT&T.” For its part, T-Mobile has explicitly said that yes, its customers (meaning all post-merger customers) will have access to 4G LTE, and more or less straightforwardly admitted that the merger took place so that AT&T could get a nationwide 4G network in place more quickly; at present, AT&T is placing fourth out of four in that race. But the wording is vaguer when it comes to the prospect of a T-Mobile iPhone 5, with a sudden shift toward vaguer language in which the company unintentionally admits it’ll get the iPhone eventually.
In a Q&A posted by T-Mobile regarding the merger, one of the questions is straightforward: “Is T-Mobile USA getting the iPhone?” it says on the Q&A uncovered by InfoSyncWorld. But while the question is asked in the forward-tense, the answer is artificially stilted by a present-tense view. “We do not offer the iPhone.” Well, thanks for clearing that up. If the answer were “We’re not getting the iPhone,” then that would have been the answer. By instead playing the “We don’t have it at this moment, and by this moment we mean the microsecond at which we’re typing out this sentence” game, T-Mobile has basically just admitted that it expects to have the iPhone.
Even more intriguingly, by admitting that the merger is all about 4G networking, T-Mobile has largely given away the fact that the carriers expect the iPhone 5 to have 4G LTE networking built in. After all, AT&T made this acquisition in an attempt to get its 4G act together before rival Verizon gets its barely-existent 4G LTE network in place. And while Apple and AT&T clearly aren’t as close of partners as they used to be, AT&T still lives or dies by the iPhone – and Verizon has made it clear that it knows the iPhone is the key to its future as well, seeing how the carrier desperately rushed a mid-season Verizon iPhone 4 to market the moment Apple was out of the AT&T deal, rather than simply waiting for the iPhone 5. With both of the major carriers so obviously focused on winning the the iPhone carrier battle, the fact that they’re both sinking themselves so heavily into 4G LTE means that they believe Apple is headed that way with the iPhone 5 – or that they’ve been outright told as much.
T-Mobile did say that it expects the AT&T merger to take twelve months to complete, and the iPhone 5 is expected in as little as three. But that’s more about AT&T making it clear how long it intends to keep the T-Mobile brand around and how long it’ll take the business back end operations to be fully integrated. Put it this way: AT&T now literally owns T-Mobile, and AT&T offers the iPhone and profits wildly from it. So the notion that AT&T would keep the iPhone 5 away from its new T-Mobile property, or the idea that Apple would refuse to give the iPhone 5 to AT&T’s new subsidiary, is absurd. T-Mobile customers may be less than thrilled to now be a part of AT&T, but at least they now know they’ll be getting the iPhone sooner than later – that is, if the merger doesn’t send them running for Verizon or Sprint instead. And speaking of Sprint, one must wonder what the newly smallest major carrier in the U.S., and now the only one not publicly on track to offer the iPhone 5, must be thinking – or perhaps doing behind the scenes in terms of making it happen. Here’s more on the iPhone 5.