AT&T’s FCC filing for their planned T-Mo merger brings up a few interesting points about AT&T’s network. To wit:
A smartphone generates 24 times the mobile data traffic of a conventional wireless phone, and the explosively popular iPad and similar tablet devices can generate traffic comparable to or even greater than a smartphone. AT&T’s mobile data volumes surged by a staggering 8,000% from 2007 to 2010, and as a result, AT&T faces network capacity constraints more severe than those of any other wireless provider.
They were, in short, unprepared for all the data iPhone users would send down their pipes almost immediately. It also explains why other carriers were able to tout excellent call quality and plenty of data for the past few years: their subscribers just weren’t as excitable as iPhone users.
This also explains why AT&T wants T-Mobile so that they can grab more bandwidth to pump out more data. It’s not quite a merger of equals, then, but more of a symbiotic parasitic relationship, like one of those crustaceans that eat a fish’s tongue and becomes a tongue replacement.