AT&T: T-Mobile 3G phones will need to be replaced

After word that AT&T had entered into a definitive agreement to buy T-Mobile USA, the company stated today that all T-Mobile customers that are using 3G phones will need to replace their handsets if the deal ever comes to close.

T-Mobile yesterday updated its website to communicate what the acquisition meant for its customers. They said that the two carriers would run as independent companies until the merger is completed and that all contracts entered into before it was would be honored, especially in terms of pricing. This was only a few short hours after AT&T announced that it had agreed to buy T-Mobile USA, as reported by Neowin.

In a statement, via the Associated Press, AT&T said that when the deal closes (expected in 12 months) they would rearrange how T-Mobile's cell towers work to repurpose 3G airwaves for 4G. It would mean that current T-Mobile 3G phones, which aren't compatible with AT&T's 3G airwaves, would need to be replaced either with 4G phones or ones that can be used with AT&T's 3G.

Ralph de la Vega, AT&T's head of wireless and consumer service, said "there's nothing for [consumers] to worry about" since the transition of T-Mobile's cell towers would take several years. He said it will happen as part of the normal phone upgrade process.

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ILikeTobacco said,

Read the article at least because commenting to cause fear. Everyone's contracts will be up before their phones no longer to work. That mean's any new customers or customers renewing their contract will get a new working phone long before they can run into any issues. There is no breach of contract once your contract terms have expired and you hit your 2 year mark.

"said "there's nothing for [consumers] to worry about" since the transition of T-Mobile's cell towers would take several years. He said it will happen as part of the normal phone upgrade process."

I am not trying to cause fear, it was just a general comment

ILikeTobacco said,
...There is no breach of contract once your contract terms have expired and you hit your 2 year mark.

The problem there is that what if I like my current plan after my 2 years are up? I will either have to buy a new phone at full price or sign a new contract with AT&T's terms. This is just a long term plan to get everyone under AT&T's higher priced capped plans.

RangerLG said,

The problem there is that what if I like my current plan after my 2 years are up? I will either have to buy a new phone at full price or sign a new contract with AT&T's terms. This is just a long term plan to get everyone under AT&T's higher priced capped plans.

That is a personal problem though and not a legal one like some people are trying to make it out to be. My point was simply, there is no breach of contract and there is nothing illegal about it. When someone's contract terms have expired, there is no legal obligation for either party to keep the service going. I am not saying it doesn't suck for TMobile customers. I am saying your phone is not going to suddenly stop working on 3G while your on contract. In no way are customers getting screwed. Your contracts will be upheld and that is all you are entitled to.

ILikeTobacco said,

That is a personal problem though and not a legal one like some people are trying to make it out to be. My point was simply, there is no breach of contract and there is nothing illegal about it. When someone's contract terms have expired, there is no legal obligation for either party to keep the service going. I am not saying it doesn't suck for TMobile customers. I am saying your phone is not going to suddenly stop working on 3G while your on contract. In no way are customers getting screwed. Your contracts will be upheld and that is all you are entitled to.

No, not illegal, but still a way to force people to their more expensive plans. And there is a chance the phone will stop working during contract. Say I sign next January for two years under a T-Mobile plan. 18 months later, AT&T "repurposes" my tower. My 3G will suddenly stops working, even though I should still be able to connect via Edge, which would technically be a breach of contract. I know they would have to let me out without penalty, but its still a pain.

Yeah, they will make me get a new at&t phone, but you know dam well they will require you to get an at&t plan and give up your t-mobile one. Easy way to get everybody off of t-mobile data plans and on 2gb data plans with overages. FML

what about some1 thats out of contract on tmo since 08... what will happen? the plan on tmo i had since compussr went oob @ 29.99/m 300minutes with 100 txt messages

If this passes, I will go Sprint or Verizon. AT&T better give FREE phones to those still using the 3g ones. And free phone of their choice.

techbeck said,
If this passes, I will go Sprint or Verizon. AT&T better give FREE phones to those still using the 3g ones. And free phone of their choice.

If you go Verizon, what are you looking at getting, if you mind sharing

Yeah, I'm going to replace 3 very new blackberries (got a great deal on all three lines with T-mobile). I don't think so, AT&Turd.

Currently i have-a cheap family plan, cheap 5GB data plan(throttled after 5gb+) and awesome customer service team that seem to show that they care that i've been with T-mobile since they came over to USA and bought Voicestream.
Family has Two Nexus one that was bought out of contract for cash; friend of mine has nexus one as well, all 3 of us would need to replace a good working phone within a year because of this stupid deal...
=/

I would assume there would be a transition phase. Similar to how it was when sprint overtook nextel, I would highly doubt that in 12 months all 3g phone users would be required to upgrade their handsets...

Although, I will be purchasing an iPhone once/if this merger occurs so I don't really care, but if they are forcing w/out the transition period then something is severely wrong.

SaltLife said,
I would assume there would be a transition phase. Similar to how it was when sprint overtook nextel, I would highly doubt that in 12 months all 3g phone users would be required to upgrade their handsets...

Although, I will be purchasing an iPhone once/if this merger occurs so I don't really care, but if they are forcing w/out the transition period then something is severely wrong.

It looks to be a roll out over time. Question is though, will AT&T let that area of people know that their phones are about to become inoperable, or will customer have to find out the hard way and realize the switch happened when their phones stopped working?

actually, I wonder if this means they (current 3g offerings) just would not operate under 3G speeds and be forced to work as EDGE

Hmmm, I find this a little fishy. I know people that have unlocked iPhones running on T-Mobiles sim cards, ie running on T-Mobile and I knew a few people running T-Mobile phones on AT&T sim cards. Since when did the two become incompatible? This screams a scam for AT&T to screw over T-Mobile customers.

I could understand if it was Sprint and T-Mobile merging (like was hinted at a couple weeks ago) as they are 2 completely different technologies. I've been an AT&T customer for almost 10 years now, and I have had no problems what so ever. However, I don't like it when they try to hurt new customers that have no choice, except to switch a new provider. Not cool at all.

Drugar said,
Hmmm, I find this a little fishy. I know people that have unlocked iPhones running on T-Mobiles sim cards, ie running on T-Mobile and I knew a few people running T-Mobile phones on AT&T sim cards. Since when did the two become incompatible? This screams a scam for AT&T to screw over T-Mobile customers.

I could understand if it was Sprint and T-Mobile merging (like was hinted at a couple weeks ago) as they are 2 completely different technologies. I've been an AT&T customer for almost 10 years now, and I have had no problems what so ever. However, I don't like it when they try to hurt new customers that have no choice, except to switch a new provider. Not cool at all.

The calling features works. It is the data that operate on different frequencies. I am a T-Mobile customer and when I had an unlocked iPhone 3G, I could only get Edge on the T-Mobile network.

AT&T says we can keep our T-Mobile plans (which are MUCH cheaper), but then say we're going to need a new phone to use the data network. And know what? They'll give you a deal on the new phone but you'll then need to get a new plan, meaning higher price every month.

A total FU to the consumer all around. This really sucks.

That's a lie. Almost ANy T-Mobile 3G capable phone can be made to work on ATT's network, all it requires is a baseband unlock and the proper SIM card Telling the device what to do.

Fact - A jailbroken iPhone 4 from ATT can be made to work on T-Mobile. The [rpblem is some data based features like SMS won't work right away, but theer are fixes in place that make texting and data features work. All the phones makers would have to do is update the phones with a software or firmware update.

They just dont want too and will levae it al up to you. Hopefully, ATT will offer you all a sweet deal to buy their phones since they dont want to reprogram them. I'd say, its a good idea to just jump ship now if you can or look online for an ATT phone at a better cost. eBay is a good place to start.

I still think it's incredible that mobile providers in the USA all seem to operate with different technology. It's counter-intuitive and confusing for customers, and just complicates the switching process between carriers. Can't somebody over there enforce some kind of standard?

Here in the UK we have 5 or 6 big mobile operators, all compatible with each other in terms of the type of signal technology. That means all mobile phones work on all networks, and you can switch at will (contracts permitting). No multiple models of iPhone here, thank you sir.

As usual, they want you to spend more money on something that should be included in the merger, new phones for free but the bill will maybe be 5 bucks higher to compensate. now that is fair if you ask me.

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