iPhone 5 could appear in the T-Mobile arsenal in 2013 if indeed Apple's newest handset does include 4G LTE support. There is little evidence iPhone 5 will have 4G capability, but since the iPad 3 is set to debut with the technology, it's logical the next iPhone would have it too. That's actually the easy part because T-Mobile doesn't want to spend the nearly $40 billion Sprint spent near the end of 2011 for the rights to sell the iPhone on contract. T-Mobile will be using that money to build out their LTE network, a system that is years behind Verizon at this point.
Plenty of iPhone owners use their unlocked devices on the T-Mobile network already. Additionally, now that T-Mobile has added broadband space from the failed AT&T buyout, more high-speed space will be available if the iPhone does officially come to the carrier. Although T-Mobile markets its network as 4G, the speeds are more like 3G, and there is no LTE support yet. T-Mobile is now making a push for LTE, joining the three major U.S. carriers in the move to high-speed broadband networks. T-Mobile is calling it their Challenger Strategy, and it's been announced at the same time the company said it lost nearly half a million subscribers at the end of 2011 because of the iPhone. Sprint was in the same category last year, but struck a deal that has cost them millions in up front costs they hope to make up by signing up more network subscribers.
If T-Mobile could get a deal they like from Apple, it will have to wait until the carrier's network gets built out. That's because the type of spectrum given to them by AT&T is right in the space where the LTE will be. In other words, it will take many months to physically update T-Mobile's towers to accommodate the new system. Once that happens, then the company can work on getting the iPhone, a deal they probably realize has to happen if they are to survive. Tell us in the comments if a true 4G network is enough to get you to join T-Mobile or if the iPhone is the only way you'd sign up there.