updated 10:27 pm EDT, Thu June 7, 2012
Says location and timing of testing is 'just coincidental'
By a 'coincidence' according to the company, T-Mobile will be upgrading network coverage inside the Moscone Center in San Francisco to test a 1900MHz HSPA+ "4G" network during the time that Apple's WWDC convention will be there, thus making it possible for unlocked iPhones and other smartphones to utilize the service. While T-Mobile does not officially carry the iPhone, it has been aggressive in seeking iPhone customers, and sells microSIMs and plans tailored to iPhone users.
The company claims this is a systematic part of its deployment of HSPA+ in a number of markets and part of a $4 billion network upgrade effort to create a "4G" network compatible with a range of devices, including the iPhone. When finished, the network should cover more than 220 million people in 229 US markets, the largest HSPA+ network in the country. The carrier announced the switch to HSPA+ (which it and AT&T call "4G") in February.
T-Mobile has been continually frustrated by its inability to win the right to sell the iPhone, and has struggled to overcome the disadvantage compared to the other big US carriers. It has also been slow to embrace LTE, and is using the HSPA+ upgrade to buy time until its LTE service can emerge in 2013.
How many users at WWDC will be able to take advantage of the plan is unknown, but most older-model iPhones can be jailbroken and unlocked fairly easily if they are not running the latest version of iOS. The first unlocking apps for iOS 5.1.1 (for the iPhone 4 and earlier) have just started to appear, but rely on users having preserved the baseband from older iOS versions (which is normally upgraded as part of the iOS upgrade process). T-Mobile says it has more than one million unlocked iPhones already running on its network.