AT&T-Mo – I Love you, but I’m not IN Love with You

AT&T has finally admitted defeat in its proposed $39B USD takeover of GSM rival, T-Mobile USA. So… NOW what?

I saw the news a few weeks ago and part of me was both relieved and sad.  AT&T has given up on consummating its proposed $39B USD takeover of GSM rival, T-Mobile USA. So the big question left for us Monday Morning Quarter backs is simple – Now what?

In their announcement, AT&T chairman and CEO, Randall Stephenson, indicates that the transaction was about spectrum and capacity – meaning that AT&T can’t meet the needs of its customers without the ability to add additional capacity to their network.  They need wireless spectrum to satisfy the needs of their LTE rollout while still keeping their EDGE, UMTS and HPSA/HPSA+ networks functioning. Now that they’ve dropped the transaction they owe Deutsche Telekom a great deal of money and, interestingly enough, wireless spectrum.  In a press released late in the afternoon on December 19th, Stephenson states,

“To reflect the break-up considerations due Deutsche Telekom, AT&T will recognize a pretax accounting charge of $4 billion in the 4th quarter of 2011.  Additionally, AT&T will enter a mutually beneficial roaming agreement with Deutsche Telekom.”

What I’m most interested in is the “mutually beneficial roaming agreement.”  There’s no additional information on this at this time. I can find no details on the agreement or what this means to either AT&T or T-Mobile USA.  If it means that T-Mo users will have access to AT&T’s 3G network and vice-versa, that…would be awesome. That could enable 3G speeds on all unlocked iPhones on T-Mo.  It could provide AT&T customers with additional stability (meaning less dropped calls) …but without the details on the roaming agreement, this is really speculation at best.

It’s also been reported that T-Mobile has been refarming some of their spectrum and networks in Utah, Nevada, and Northern California to use the 1900mHz band for 3G.  Even in these areas, it’s not wide spread, and in small pockets.  However, unlocked iPhones (as well as other unlocked phones that make use of the 1900mHz band) in those areas are getting 3G speeds, on T-Mobile.  One can only hope that they do more of this, and perhaps arrange the AT&T roaming agreement to enable this, in larger areas.

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