T-Mobile upgrading network for iPhone compatibility

T-Mobile invested $4 billion in 4G LTE

T Mobile upgrading network for iPhone compatibility

The verdict is still out on whether or not fourth-place U.S. carrier T-Mobile will get the iPhone 5 when it arrives later this year, but 3G data network incompatibilities will no longer be a hindrance toward becoming an Apple partner.

T-Mobile is no stranger to the iPhone - the carrier has had customers with unlocked handsets on its network almost from the beginning, despite Apple's device lacking the necessary radio for obtaining 3G data speeds on its network.

Thanks to the carrier's $4 billion investment in 4G LTE, that problem will soon be a thing of the past.

4G LTE or bust

T-Mobile is now working with Ericsson and Nokia Siemens to build out their 4G LTE network, which includes additional spectrum the carrier received as part of the failed merger with AT&T.

The deployment of 4G LTE is expected to cover 75 percent of the carrier's 25 largest markets, as well as additional upgrades to its existing HSPA+ network, which T-Mobile dubs as "the largest 4G network" in the U.S.

Unofficial iPhone carrier

While T-Mobile's existing HSPA+ network currently covers more than 220 million customers in 229 markets, users with unlocked iPhones have had to make do with the carrier's older, slower 2G EDGE network for data.

As part of the $4 billion upgrade to launch 4G LTE next year, the carrier will add the necessary 1900MHz spectrum which makes HSPA+ speeds possible on the iPhone.

With a new iPhone on deck for later this year, the upgrades could finally bring much-needed attention from Apple.

But since AT&T now unlocks older handsets from its network, T-Mobile will offer an attractive alternative for those users, with or without the official blessing of Apple.

Via CBS News