In what has to be both a hedge on spectrum and a move to prevent anyone else from jumping up in class,AT&T has made a strategic move to acquire all of T-Mobile in the USA.
What they get is similar wireless technology in GSM/HSPA/HSPA+ and LTE, plus they also get Wi-Fi that AT&T can use (or what's left of T-Mobile's network). They get comatible mobile handsets in Android, Microsoft and Blackberry platforms. AT&T also picks up the UMA technology that T-Mobile has deployed in their network to place and receive calls over Wi-Fi. They also get a ton of retail locations, many of which will need to be combined or eliminated.
This also means AT&T can deploy more contiguous coverage across the USA, filling gaps they had.
Unfortunately, this move really reduces opportunity for new technology to have another choice, or option to be sold through in the USA on the GSM side. It means that sellers now have really one major customer, for now on the GSM side of the fence. What it also does is open the door for Sprint or Verizon to quickly look at snapping up Metro PCS or Cricket (or both) and makes Clearwire's presence and relationship with Sprint somewhat more interesting. Lastly, it means LightSquared, which had hoped to work with T-Mobile is now up a creek without a paddle, unless it can strike an MVNO deal with AT&T.
What it also means is the cable companies will now have to likely get into mobile in a big way, working to build out wireless networks of their own, ala what Cox Communications is doing.
The move also effectively blocks European giants Orange and Telefonica from buying T-Mobile here, and also leaves Vodafone, which could have sold off their Verizon stake and bought T-Mobile, out in the cold, and having only one roaming partner for GSM calls thus giving AT&T a monopoly on inbound roaming here in the USA until LTE voice service is up and running fully, after the year or so of the two companies having to integrate.
Now let's look at it from the consumer and enterprise buyer side. More iPhones and iPads for the GSM using crowd. AT&T eliminates a potential enterprise opponent. Unlocked phones, or easy to unlock phones may become more challenging as T-Mobile was very liberal there. Pricing plans-T-Mobile was more aggressive, and with mobile data, had some very interesting, though expensive pay as you go plans.
Who wins? AT&T. Who loses--Read Om Malik's post and find out. (Added)
Some additional coverage by Stacey at GigaOm..... added post posting..