In a quote from an AT&T statement, it is being reported that T-Mobile users will have to get new phones in order to take part in AT&Ts 4G plans. This could largely be due to AT&T planning to transition all T-Mobile towers to a 4G network. This could be good, it could be bad. Good for middle customers who would like to get a new 4G phone but are stuck with another year or two on their contracts, bad in that it means people will have to lay out more money to pick up an AT&T handset and get locked into yet another two years with Ma Bell.

The spectrum they use for third-generation services, or 3G, will be re-purposed for 4G, which is faster.

That would leave current T-Mobile phones without 3G. They would need to be replaced with phones that use AT&T’s 3G frequencies. Ralph de la Vega, AT&T’s head of wireless and consumer services, said this will happen as part of the normal phone upgrade process.

“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,” de la Vega said in an interview.

So, while AT&T reps assure us that 4G plan will be phased in and customers won’t have to buy a new phone right away, the rather dead end point is, that sooner or later, they will. Course, with FCC approval of the deal expected to take about a year to complete, and the complete 4G transition several years on top of that. So, users in current contracts may be able to run out the clock and transition to a new carrier or phone anyway. But where does this leave current AT&T customers? Will the 4G phase in also mean that AT&T users will have to transition to a mandatory 4G handset as well?

AT&T rocked the wireless world with their surprise announcement yesterday that it would be buying T-Mobile USA from German carrier Deutsche Telekom for $39 billion in cash and stock. It also plans on spending over $8 billion to bring the entire T-Mobile network into the 4G realm. AT&T is working overtime making assurances to customers, and especially to the FCC who has to approve the merger, that the marriage of these two carriers will benefit users as they move to the 4G LTE spectrum. And could the FCC may be looking forward to 3G being vacated sooner, rather than later so another spectrum auction can occur?

“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,” de la Vega said. So, AT&T’s opinion seems to be it’s a win-win proposition.

[via Yahoo Finance]