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iPhones on T-Mobile Get 3G Data Around Moscone West

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It looks like T-Mobile is trying to show off its network to iPhone users at WWDC next week by giving them 3G data.

According to 9To5Mac, T-Mobile’s 3G network is working on iPhones in the area of Moscone West where Apple will hold WWDC next week. The carrier previously announced it would use its 1900 MHz spectrum to bring “4G” service to iPhones, though we didn’t expect the service to come up so quickly.

The T-Mobile iPhone user who reported the 3G coverage noted that 3G coverage was only available for a block around Moscone West. A few hundred feet away from the WWDC area the user’s phone dropped back down to 2G service.

Update: Confirmed! T-Mobile gave 9to5Mac the following statement:

While upgrading coverage inside the West side of the Moscone Center, T-Mobile has also deployed 4G HSPA+ service in the 1900 MHz band to test the live network on a small scale. As part of the company’s previously announced $4 billion network modernization effort, T-Mobile plans to launch 4G HSPA+ service in the 1900 MHz band in a large number of markets by the end of the year, which will make our 4G network compatible with a broader range of devices, including the iPhone.

NOTE: The time and location of this test is just coincidental.

We don’t know if Apple or T-Mobile are planning any partnership announcements during the conference next week. We haven’t heard any reports of Apple and T-Mobile working together, so for now this just appears that T-Mobile reaching out to developers with unlocked iPhones running on its network.

Unfortunately the user didn’t send along any speed tests for the network. It should run much faster than T-Mobile’s 2G network, and might run faster than AT&T’s “4G” network. T-Mobile’s “4G” network can reach theoretical speeds of 42 Mbps, which are much higher than AT&T’s theoretical speeds of 21 Mbps for “4G.”

As T-Mobile rolls out the 1900 MHz network that lets iPhone users get 3G or “4G” it will give some stiff competition to Cricket and Virgin Mobile. T-Mobile offers unlimited prepaid plans that start at $30 a month, which is a few dollars less than the other two prepaid carriers. T-Mobile does throttle those unlimited plans, but only after 5GB. Cricket and Virgin Mobile put a limit of 2.5GB on the “unlimited” plans.

Buying unlocked iPhones for T-Mobile is more expensive, but there’s no limit on the storage size of the iPhones. Cricket and Virgin Mobile only offer 16GB iPhone 4S and 8GB iPhone 4 units. T-Mobile might actually get the iPhone eventually so users won’t have to rely on prepaid plans. That seems unlikely at the moment, however.

Update: According to The Next Web, T-Mobile confirmed it will have “iPhone-compatible 4G” at WWDC next week. The company claims the “4G” upgrade timing is “just coincidental,” however.

Shawn is a tech junkie who spends most of his time reading and writing about it. You can follow him on Twitter, @shawn_i.

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