Being a T-Mobile customer just got a little bit harder.
A small, regional carrier, NTelos Wireless, today announced that it will start carrying the iPhone 4S on April 20. The company will offer Apple's smartphone for $50 less than what customers can find from big carriers, so the 16GB model will go for $149.99. The 32GB and 64GB models will retail for $249.99 and $349.99, respectively.
The announcement might make many T-Mobile customers scratch their heads. Their favored carrier is the only major cell service provider that doesn't carry Apple's iPhone. And now it's being offered to a company that has 400,000 retail subscribers across Virginia, West Virginia, and parts of a few other states.
And NTelos isn't the only regional carrier to offer the iPhone. Last October, for example, C Spire -- formally known as Cellular South -- announced that it.
As a matter of fact, later this morning word came that yet another small carrier will be getting the iPhone 4S. Alaska Communications announced that it, too, will begin offering Apple's smartphone on April 20. Its pricing follows the pattern laid out by NTelos, and the iPhone will be availabe in 14 retail stores and online.
There's currently no known reason Apple has decided against bringing the iPhone 4S to T-Mobile. The smartphone maker faces no technical barriers to offering the device to T-Mobile customers, and the more places it can offer the device, the greater its chances of increasing sales.
For its part, T-Mobile has not said why the iPhone isn't on its store shelves, but did tell CNET last year that it has.
"T-Mobile thinks the iPhone is a good device and we've expressed our interest to Apple to offer it to our customers," the company told CNET last year. "Ultimately, it is Apple's decision. We firmly believe that T-Mobile's portfolio will give any iPhone a run for its money."
Meanwhile, NTelos has a theory for why Apple is playing nice with only some brands: it only deals with the best.
"Apple only partners with the world's best brands and service providers, and their partnership is a testament to the quality network and service experience that NTelos Wireless delivers," the company said in a Q&A today. "It's also a direct result of the multi-million dollar investments that NTelos Wireless made in preparation for this important product introduction."
The pricing for NTelos' offer requires a two-year agreement. The company says it will open its stores at 7 a.m. local time on April 20 to accommodate anticipated large crowds.
Update 9:22 a.m. PT: Added information about Alaska Communications also offering the iPhone 4S.