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iPhone 4 coming to T-Mobile UK

T-Mobile USA to follow?

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The iPhone 4 is coming to T-Mobile UK.

T-Mobile has not said when the Jobsian handset will arrive on its network, but the carrier is now advertising the thing on its website. UK carriers O2, Orange, and Vodafone have already said they will offer the phone on June 24, the same day it debuts in the US.

Meanwhile, at least one observer is now convinced that the iPhone will also be coming to T-Mobile USA. In the US, AT&T still has an exclusive on the Jobsian handset.

Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu, Fortune reports, told his clients Thursday that T-Mobile USA has a shot at jumping aboard the Cupertinian gravy train, possibly as soon as this fall.

Wu cites no insider information or "persons familiar with the matter" — he's merely using that tool shunned by so many rumor-mongers: reason.

He notes that both #1 Verizon and #3 Sprint Nextell have CDMA-based networks, and the iPhone is a GSM/UMTS handset. #2 AT&T runs its 3G UMTS service in the 850MHz and 1900MHz bands; #4 T-Mobile USA's is at 1700MHz and 2100MHz. Both the iPhone 3GS and the new iPhone 4 support both 850MHz and 2100MHz UMTS.

Score one for T-Mobile USA in that Apple wouldn't have to make any modifications to the iPhone to enable it to run on #4's service, as it would for #1 and #3.

Another of Wu's arguments is less technical — namely, that the rising popularity of Android-based phones is edging Apple's bête noire du jour, Google, closer to market parity than Cupertino finds comfortable. One way to boost market share is to broaden the pool of prospective customers — and one analyst has said that US iPhone sales could more than double if Apple ended its exclusivity pact with AT&T and added Verizon as a carrier.

Although T-Mobile USA has only around 34 million subscribers compared with Verizon's 93 million, according to Wu, that's still a hefty slice of potential customers — notably where AT&T service is either absent or execrable. Then Apple could add Verizon to the mix after LTE service rolls out, and further distance itself from the marauding horde of Googlephones.

All mere speculation, to be sure, but worth pondering — and our thanks to Mr. Wu for getting us to Think Different™ about the end of AT&T's iPhone exclusivity in the US. The Reg tires of the endless stream of "Verizon to offer the iPhone" rumors — so much so that we didn't even bother to report this week's version.

In our considered opinion, the iPhone won't move to Verizon until LTE 4G broadband becomes widely available. If then. ®

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