Those who choose not to become a customer of one of Canada’s startup wireless carriers often cite a lack of cool phones. The cheap unlimited data in amazing, the lack of contracts is awesome, but the selection of handsets? Not so much.
In recent times, the discount carriers have gotten a little better at offering newer BlackBerry and Android devices sooner. But the iPhone, the single-most popular smartphone in North America by far, is entirely incompatible with the AWS spectrum that all the startups rely on. Can you imagine how accelerated their growth thus far could have been were they offering the iPhone with unlimited data for $35 per month?
The dream of many consumers may finally become a reality with the next iPhone, widely expected to launch this summer. T-Mobile chief technology officer Neville Ray is confident that Apple will enable support of Advanced Wireless Services in its next-gen iPhone, noting that “the challenge that existed in the past will go away.” In an interview with CNET, Neville speculated that “the next [iPhone] will support AWS.” As far as sources ago, he’s about the most credible there is outside of an Apple exec.
Since its launch, the iPhone has been strictly HSPA-compatible. Last year, Apple expanded this to CDMA compatibility, which made waves. A further enhancement to enable AWS—which would affect every new entrant here plus T-Mobile in America—would certainly trigger an earthquake among consumers and perhaps finally threaten the iron-grip oligopoly of the Big Three. Rogers, Telus, and Bell still control roughly 94% of Canada’s wireless marketplace, despite the best efforts of Wind Mobile, Public Mobile, Mobilicity, and Videotron.
Apple wouldn’t do it for Canada’s startup carriers. But they might do it for T-Mobile, and as a result, our discount carriers would benefit immensely.