This is definitely not good news for T-Mobile, which had promised customers they would get the iPhone when the merger with AT&T was complete, but which was left stranded after regulators pulled the couple apart: A handful of small regional carriers will soon not only be offering the iPhone to customers, they’ll be selling it for less than their major competitors.
First up is Virginia-based nTelos, which has about 400,000 customers. Later this month, It will begin selling iPhone 4 (along with two-year contracts) for as little as $50, and the iPhone 4s starting at $150 with two-year contracts. Plans will cost $80 or $100 depending on the number of minutes customers want. Both plans include 5GB/month of data with throttling after that point.
Then there’s Alaska Communications, which will also begin selling the iPhone 4S for $150 later this month to its current base of around 100,000 customers.
Joining in the discount iPhone fun are also Alaska’s GCI and Kentucky-based Appalachian Wireless. The AP reports that Matanuska Telephone Association will be offering the iPhone but not at the discounted price of the other companies, and Wisconsin’s CellCom has only said the iPhone is coming soon, but has not announced prices.
If you’re a T-Mobile customer wondering “what the darn heck?”, GigaOm has a pretty good explanation of the various hurdles involved in getting iPhones on that network — and huge potential pitfalls for the device as wireless companies roll out LTE networks.