Is The iPhone Finally Coming To T-Mobile?

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It’s been about a year since T-Mobile customers’ hopes of getting access to the iPhone were dashed when the company’s merger with AT&T fell apart. Now come reports that they might finally be able to have the Apple device as early as next week. But some say that just won’t happen.

T-Mobile, the only one of the four major carriers not to carry the iPhone, has made no secret of its desire to offer the device. And today Fortune cites a Merrill Lynch analyst’s report that “speculation is heightening” that T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom plans to announce a deal next week that would include the iPhone.

As Fortune points out, T-Mobile has been spending the money it received from AT&T after the merger failed to improve its HSPA+ network. Additionally, there are around 1.5 million T-Mobile customers already using unlocked iPhones on the network.

But GigaOm’s Kevin Fitchard says T-Mobile’s network isn’t truly ready and that those upgrades have only been completed in 15 cities.

“If the iPhone were to go live next week, the vast majority of T-Mobile’s customers who bought it would experience only 2G speeds,” he writes. “That’s to say nothing of the iPhone 5’s LTE capabilities, which T-Mobile won’t support until the second half of 2013. Considering the iPhone is first and foremost a mobile data device, I don’t think even Apple is willing to unleash it on a network that can perform only a fraction of the data functions it was designed for.”

We won’t know for sure until Deustche Telekom’s analysts day comes later next week.