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AT&T Takeover Will Cripple T-Mobile 3G Phones

The BIG news that hit over the weekend is that AT&T is ponying up the cash to buy T-Mobile, which if approved, would make it so that the U.S. only has a single national GSM carrier.

The consolidation of the network and spectrum would mean that customers from both sides will eventually have a more complete and higher-quality network, but restructuring will also essentially change the 3G band for T-Mobile's existing customers.

Right now, T-Mobile uses the 1700 MHz AWS band for its 3G signals. With AT&T's proposed acquisition, it will repurpose that part of the spectrum for LTE. This means that those using T-Mobile 3G phones, even unlocked ones such as the Nexus One and Nexus S, will be unable to access the high-speed data network.

AT&T said that it has plans to help T-Mobile customers replace phones when the switchover happens, but that will be still several years out.

"There's nothing for them to worry about ... it will be done over time, in a way that's good for customers and good for AT&T," said Ralph de la Vega, AT&T's head of wireless and consumer services, to the AP.