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What does the AT&T deal for T-Mobile USA mean for Apple?

AT&T confirmed on Sunday that it plans to acquire T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom. T-Mobile USA will operate as a separate brand until the deal is approved. If approved, this deal would bump AT&T up to 130 million subscribers and make it the nation's largest wireless operator. Though it is not directly involved in this merger, GigaOm suggests that Apple stands to benefit from the union of these two wireless carriers.

This new relationship will improve the performance of the current iPhone on AT&T's network. AT&T has been long maligned for its less-than-stellar network quality, a situation it has been trying to remedy by building out its network and increasing backhaul capacity.

AT&T's network will get a big boost from T-Mobile's cell towers, which will be folded into AT&T's cellular grid. These extra towers will extend coverage and provide additional network capacity, especially in the data hungry metropolitan areas. Both San Francisco and Chicago will see a 25 to 45 percent increase in cell sites as a result of this merger.

In the future, the Cupertino company is expected to continue to sell the iPhone and the iPad on AT&T. When this merger is approved within the next 12 months, AT&T will gradually move T-Mobile customers from the 3G 1700/2100 MHz AWS band to AT&T's 1900 MHz band. AT&T plans to use this vacated AWS spectrum for its LTE network. Once the migration is over, Apple will be able to tap T-Mobile's 35 million customers. This migration is at least a year away, so any boost in sales won't occur until the iPhone 6 or beyond.

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