Now that the proposed $39 billion AT&T buyout of T-Mobile has fallen through, what does it mean for customers of the two networks?
For now, life will go on if you use either network for your cell phone or tablet devices.
As part of a breakup agreement, T-Mobile will get wireless spectrum in 128 markets, including 12 of the top 20, and T-Mobile subscribers will be able to roam on AT&T’s network for more than seven years. T-Mobile said Tuesday that this will allow it to service 280 million U.S. customers, up from 230.
If you’re currently under contract with T-Mobile sub and were hoping a merger might finally get you access to an iPhone, don’t expect an official Apple device anytime in the near future. But who knows–if T-Mobile can figure out a way to survive moving forward, Apple may make a device for the network when iPhone 5 comes out next summer or fall.
There are plenty of people who felt like Apple wasn’t making a device for T-Mobile simply because T-Mobile might become AT&T soon enough.
For the companies, however, things are a little more complex. T-Mobile will get the aforementioned breakup fee of about $3 billion in cash and boost T-Mobile’s wireless spectrum (aka “capacity”) to include additional markets. That should allow T-Mobile to continue to invest in its network, provided its German parent company sees any future in that. But to remain viable T-Mobile is going to have to get a real 4G network like Verizon has and AT&T is quickly building. The cash infusion likely isn’t enough to accomplish that.
So how could T-Mobile remain afloat?
There are plenty of industry rumors that DISH Network will pursue T-Mobile, which could be interesting.
Meanwhile, AT&T is right that more wireless spectrum is needed to keep Americans happy with their wireless devices. Let’s hope Congress finds ways to do that, as it licenses and controls much of the wireless capacity available today. Everyone wants 4G speed. If you haven’t tried it on Verizon or even AT&T fledgling new network, it makes cell phone use feel new again.
So if you’re a new or recent T-Mobile subscriber, you don’t have to do anything right now. AT&T subscriberss are fine for now too, though the promise of a greatly improved network in 2012 probably won’t happen — at least not as fast as some of them might have hoped.