AT&T is buying T-Mobile for $39 billion

AT&T has announced a definitive agreement to buy Deutsche Telekom’s American T-Mobile subsidiary in a cash and stock deal worth about $39 billion, and giving the German carrier an 8 percent stake in AT&T…

T-Mobile and AT&T share similar GSM and UMTS/HSPA networks, and both are working to build new next generation networks using HSPA+ and LTE. However, obtaining the rights to radio spectrum and building out these networks is both expensive and complex.

AT&T’s chief executive Randall Stephenson said the deal “provides a fast, efficient and certain solution to the impending exhaustion of wireless spectrum in some markets, which limits both companies’ ability to meet the ongoing explosive demand for mobile broadband…”

T-Mobile adds 33.7 million subscribers to AT&T’s network of of about 95.5 million, creating a total of about 130 million users, and becoming the largest American carrier. The deal will also expand Apple’s iPhone to three of what were the top four US carriers, as Apple has already brought it to Verizon earlier this year.

RTFA for the details. Fascinating – and expanded choices for anyone who owns or intends to own a GSM mobile device. In our market in northern New Mexico, we had held off on buying any iPhones or 3G iPads because of the requirement of dealing with AT&T. Their service is mediocre here at best. T-Mobile has been our personal choice for cellular service for years.

OK – aside from the new availability of hardware and increased network access across the country, what will this mean for consumers? In the opinion of many, we’re more likely to be screwed by higher prices, narrower opportunities for software and app developers.

One of the best analysts in the world on the dynamic mobile market is Om Malik. Here’s a link to his analysis as the story broke. Not especially optimistic.

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