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Free market huh? AT&T agrees to buy T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom for $39 billion. Will Verizon go after Sprint?

Posted on: March 21, 2011

Wowzers! AT&T and Deutsche Telekom have entered into a definitive agreement for the sale of T-Mobile USA for $39 billion in cash and stocks. The combined customer base of this upcoming behemoth will be 130 million humans, though the agreed deal will have to pass the usual regulatory and closing hurdles before becoming complete. The two companies estimate it’ll take them 12 months to get through all the bureaucracy — if they get through, the proposed network merger will create a de facto GSM monopoly within the United States — but we don’t have to wait that long to start discussing life with only three major US carriers. AT&T envisions it as a rosy garden of “straightforward synergies” thanks to a set of “complementary network technologies, spectrum positions and operations.”

One of the other big benefits AT&T is claiming here is a significantly expanded LTE footprint — 95 percent of Americans, or 294 million pops — which works out to 46.5 million more than AT&T was claiming had it gone LTE alone. Of course, T-Mobile has never put forth a clear strategy for migrating to LTE, suggesting that AT&T plans on using the company’s AWS spectrum to complement its own 700MHz licenses as it moves to 4G. You might be groaning at the thought of yet another LTE band, but it’s not as bad as you might think: MetroPCS already has a live LTE network functioning on AWS, so there’s precedent for it. For further details, hit up the gallery below, the Mobilize Everything site, or the official press release after the break.

In the event of the deal failing to receive regulatory approval, AT&T will be on the hook for $3 billion to T-Mobile — a breakup fee, they call it — along with transferring over some AWS spectrum it doesn’t need for its LTE rollout, and granting T-Mo a roaming agreement at a value agreeable to both parties.

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