A new patent awarded to Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) fuels speculation that the Mac maker will introduce a MacBook for telephony networks. The finding lends context to AT&T's (NYSE: T) $39 billion bid for T-Mobile USA.

We've seen this sort of thing before, thanks to the sleuths over at Patently Apple. This time, the Mac maker's filing calls for an adjustable antenna that could use a magnetic coupling in a manner similar to how Apple's power cords fasten to hardware. Here's a closer look:

Editorial

Sources: CNET and Patently Apple.

My inner geek craves this sort of inventiveness. And as a dad on the go most of the week -- shuttling kids to taekwondo and ballet, among other places -- I relish the thought of having access to 3G and, ultimately, 4G service from a MacBook. Wi-Fi isn't always available, and when it is I'm usually able to get a decent chunk of work done.

But as an investor, I'm intrigued by the broader implications of having laptops leap into the murky waters of telecom. At the very least, it could put a huge strain on AT&T and Verizon (NYSE: VZ). Both companies' networks are under pressure to meet the data-delivery demands of smartphones and tablets.

Add laptops into the mix and ... wow. No wonder Ma Bell took a German lover. AT&T handles 30 times as much data traffic today as it did in 2007. T-Mobile will add needed wireless spectrum and infrastructure to handle the new devices about to tap into the old lady's network.

Verizon and Sprint Nextel (Nasdaq: S) have the same problem, which is why some analysts say the two could merge to create a second Super Phone Company. I'm not so sure that would pass regulatory muster. And besides, Sprint might do just as well to settle differences with its Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR) subsidiary.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think about Apple's assault on Wi-Fi, the state of the telecom industry, and the forthcoming rise of telephonic laptops using the comments box below.

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