If AT&T’s plan to acquire T-Mobile USA is approved by U.S. regulatory authorities, it will completely change the wireless landscape. The merger will affect rates, customer service and consumer choice, to say the least. But what will it mean for AT&T and T-Mobile’s 4G network implementation?
While Sprint and Verizon have full-fledged 4G networks up and running, using WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) and LTE (Long Term Evolution), respectively, AT&T and T-Mobile lag behind with HSPA+ (Evolved High-Speed Packet Access) technology. Though the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) recognizes HSPA+ as 4G, it’s considered by experts to be more like 3.5G. This is in part because HSPA+ is an upgrade of the carrier’s existing equipment, while WiMax and LTE are a complete overhaul. Both AT&T and T-Mobile have mentioned plans to adopt LTE; AT&T’s launch is imminent, while T-Mobile does not yet have a set timeline.