In a move to steal some of Verizon's publicity following the introduction of the iPhone 4 and shared release of the iPad, AT&T decided to make some noise by offering $39 billion to purchase T-Mobile, making the combined wireless carrier the largest in the nation. Before you can say "Where's my T-Mobile iPhone?" let's take a closer look at what this might mean for all parties, including Big Red (Verizon).
What AT&T gets: Obviously, a larger network, with T-Mobile's 34 million subscribers, and its strength in key markets where AT&T may have been weaker. This also includes T-Mobile's self reported "America's largest 4G network".
What T-Mobile gets: AT&T's commitment to an expanded 4G network, and inclusion as part of the nation's largest wireless carrier. As a German-owned U.S. company, T-Mobile (owned by Deutsche Telekom) never seemed to cement itself in the minds of US customers despite accumulating a fairly large number of users. It was always Verizon or AT&T with Sprint gaining traction as of late.
Which brings us to the important questions of:
1) When will T-Mobile get the iPhone?
According to T-Mobile, not yet. However, they cleverly leave the door open, so it's likely that the next generation iPhone 5 - hopefully a 4G phone - may be the first opportunity for T-Mobile users to officially use an iPhone on their network.
2) What about the service?
Funny, that this was the first question addressed in T-Mobile's Q&A. This may allude to the fact that AT&T has developed a reputation for poor service (it's why I switched to Verizon), and T-Mobile customers have been generally pleased with theirs. Of course, it all depends on where you live, so with a combined network covering 95% of the nation, this could provide a significant boost for both companies.
3) What will Verizon do?
Long entrenched as the "nation's largest and most reliable wireless carrier," Verizon is about to lose one of those titles, and depending on how AT&T structures its upgraded 4G network, Verizon may be challenged for the most reliable carrier someday soon. I would imagine that "Big Red" will focus on beefing up its 4G LTE deployment, make a big splash with a few flagship devices including a series of 4G Androids and the iPhone 5 this summer, and possibly begin exploring buying out a company such as US Cellular, an up and coming carrier that will complete a 4G LTE rollout by the end of the year.