I have been a T-Mobile customer for nearly a decade.  I have had very few complaints in that time.  I am a Technology Evangelist and I have watched with significant interest the development of the 4G network standards from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint/Nextel.  LTE and WiMax each have their prospective upsides and each has been heavily touted by their respective development teams.  The thing that really got to me was that over the past few years T-Mobile never got on board with a 4G development project.  It was almost like they were going to wait out the battle and see which of the competing technologies would come out victorious and then just glom on for the ride.  Well this weekend we all got to see the results of hanging back and waiting.  Ina Fried posted the memo sent from T-mobile CEO Philipp Humm to his employees announcing the proposed AT&T acquisition. 

The first reason Mr. Humm states in his memo for this acquisition is the extension of 4G services to a broad customer base.  He says,

“The sale of T-Mobile USA to AT&T is the best possible solution for our business and for our customers. The merger will ensure the deployment of a robust 4G network to 95% of the U.S. population, something neither company could achieve on its own.”

If you don’t think that 4G is a big deal then here is your wake up call.  4G communications capability will be the defining trait of a mobile carrier for the foreseeable future. 

WHY?

Think about this for just a minute.  The handheld device market (Tablets and Smart Phones for now) is growing like gangbusters.  Those devices are currently really nice media delivery systems which love high bandwidth connections to maintain excellent quality of content.  Eventually those devices will become business tools.  The applications will move from entertainment to business.  Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure will host applications, storage, and processing opportunities, App fabric controls, etc. and drive those devices from the mainstream consumer to the mainstream business. 

4G is the network tie that will bring the handheld consumer devices to the cloud.  Network connectivity will be king.  AT&T knows this very very well, and this understanding provides the perfect backdrop for the purchase of T-Mobile. 

I guess I’m looking forward to becoming an AT&T customer.  I have heard there’s a map for that.