SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WBBM) — One of the nation’s largest cell phone providers is buying a smaller provider and it hopes to expand mobile broadband services to more of Illinois’ rural areas.

The pending $39 billion merger between AT&T and T-Mobile would provide “4G” wireless coverage to more Illinoisans than if AT&T bolstered its current network by itself.

Paul Laschiazza, President of AT&T Illinois, says the industry standard for 4G speeds is around 10 to 12 megabits per second – roughly four times faster than what’s currently available with 3G.

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“Every carrier is getting to the 4G platform in a different way,” he says. “But at the end of the day, you can define what it is based on what the industry standard is and the experience that you get.”

A coverage map of the proposed network coverage shows most of the state would indeed be covered, minus large sections of the Shawnee National Forest in southeastern Illinois and scattered pockets in west central Illinois. The merger is expected to be approved in January.

Laschiazza says dropped calls and slow data speeds, for which AT&T has been criticized for some time, will be greatly reduced as it takes on T-Mobile’s extra network capacity. Lachiazza says the merger will likely be a done deal by January.