Is T-Mobile USA Going to Survive? Should Microsoft Help Them Stay Relevant?

I mentioned earlier this week that T-Mobile USA customers will still have WiFi access in Starbucks coffee shops due to a WiFi roaming agreement between T-Mobile and AT&T Wireless. Then, I learned that this agreement ends after 5 years (early 2013). It is possible they could renew their agreement at that point in time. But, it is also possible that AT&T could wave goodbye to T-Mobile at that point. So, T-Mobile’s hotspot service will be limited to Kinko’s/FedEx locations, some hotels, and and airports. Not real useful even at only $20/month.

Then, I read over on Brighthand that T-Mobile USA is finally getting around to rolling out a 3G network later this year (or so they claim). But, there’s a wrinkle to this promise too… T-Mobile’s 3G is neither animal (UTMS) nor vegetable (HSDPA). This means that we can’t just take an unlocked 3G phone and use it with T-Mobile.

This bad news is not limited to T-Mobile IMHO. This is also bad news for Microsoft. Why? I If T-Mobile becomes seen as an backwater mobile phone service, it will make it easier for its customer base to abandon it for AT&T Wireless to get widely available WiFi hotspot and 3G service. It also makes it really easy for people to decide to dump Windows Mobile and get an iPhone (or Google Android for that matter).

Microsoft should think about investing in a nationwide hotspot provider and having it shore up T-Mobile’s WiFi coverage to help T-Mobile keep their WiMo customers happy.