T-Mobile USA to soon sell iPhones, cut subsidies: CEO

LAS VEGAS, Wed Jan 9, 2013 — Deutsche Telekom AG unit T-Mobile USA will start selling the Apple Inc. iPhone in about three to four months and will enforce its plan to get rid of cellphone subsidies in a similar timeframe, according to CEO John Legere.

Legere declined to disclose details about the company’s agreement with Apple, except to say that T-Mobile USA’s timing for selling the smartphone would be sooner rather than later, along with its subsidy elimination plan.

“They’re all, I would call them, in three to four months as opposed to six to nine months, Legere told Reuters in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

T-Mobile USA said late last year it would eliminate handset subsidies in 2013 to give customers more flexibility and lower service prices. It said at the same time that it will also sell the iPhone, making it the last U.S. mobile provider to do so.

The company hopes to attract customers from bigger rivals like AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless  with the combination of selling iPhones and removing subsidies, which would be a first for the U.S. wireless industry.

The executive said he could possibly increase T-Mobile USA’s market share by 5 percent or higher from bigger rivals who still depend on subsidizing phones to give their customers a device discount in exchange for tying them into a two-year contract.

“If the old industry structure chooses to ignore what we do,” he said, “That’s a potential.”

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