CTIA News And AT&T Views As Tablet Rivalry Stews

Tune in to the latest rocking episode of BYTE Mobile Radio.
What happens when specs say one thing and your eyes say another? My colleague Fritz Nelson elaborates on this week's episode of BYTE Mobile Radio.

Nelson told hosts Craig Johnston and me that the 8.6-mm-thin Galaxy Tab 10.1 that Samsung showed at CTIA this week isn't thinner than the new iPad 2, as Samsung claims. Samsung had shown a new version of its 10-inch Galaxy Tab at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month, then re-crafted the tablet to one-up Apple's 8.8-mm-thin iPad 2, announced on March 2. But seeing is disbelieving.

Even a company with Samsung's enormous resources apparently couldn't redesign and demonstrate a working prototype in just a few weeks, Nelson said on the show.

Nelson took a picture of an iPad 2 and the new Galaxy Tab side by side, and the Galaxy, despite Samsung's specs, still looked a bit thicker. Splitting hairs, perhaps, but what's the deal? Listen to the show for perspective on what Samsung said about the discrepancy.

Also on BYTE Mobile Radio, we dig into AT&T's deal with Deutsche Telekom to acquire T-Mobile. The $39 billion deal, which would make AT&T the largest U.S. mobile communications carrier, is generating controversy.

There are lots of reasons this deal is great for AT&T -- besides delivering subscribers, it will help AT&T deliver 4G/LTE services faster to many more customers. But mobilecom customers in general won't be so lucky, say the two BYTE Mobile Radio hosts.

As Craig points out in the show, T-Mobile has been a scrappy competitor, pushing rivals Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint to lower prices, improve customer service, and drive innovation. I said as much in a hotly debated column I wrote this week.

Fritz noted that an exec from No. 3 carrier Sprint seemed absolutely miserable about the deal when CNBC's Jim Cramer questioned the exec on Cramer's show.

When and if the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission approve the deal, Verizon will purchase Sprint post-haste, I predict, moving Verizon back into the No. 1 spot.

If you're a T-Mobile subscriber, there's also the question of whether your phone will still work if and when this deal goes through in a year. Odds are, current T-Mobile 3G and 4G phones using HSPA and HSPA+ won't operate with AT&T.

Yes, both the AT&T and T-Mobile USA networks are based on GSM technology, but each one's service is on a different band of the spectrum, according to industry watchers.

Aside from the AT&T views, the big CTIA news centered on tablets. Samsung's new 10-inch tablet (according to specs) will have a better camera than most competitors, Fritz said on the show.

But what really matters to IT folks are enterprise features. Are such features as remote wipe and backup and ActiveSync support really enough? The BlackBerry, the gold standard of enterprise mobile devices, offers security and management at a deeper level, Fritz insisted.

On this week's episode, Craig and Fritz get into it regarding the quality of RIM's BEAM middleware, which is a Java application server with callable libraries and built-in Oracle Fusion services. We also discussed rumors about a new videoconferencing system that will work across tablet OS platforms, and speculation about a possible Motorola Xoom docking station.

Hear all about it on the latest rocking episode of BYTE Mobile Radio.

For InformationWeek, TechWeb, and the upcoming, I'm Gina Smith.

Follow Gina at @ginasmith888.