AT&T (NYSE: T) may have the most hated network in America, but at least the company is working on the problem.

Ma Bell just agreed to send $1.925 billion to Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) in return for the spectrum licenses the chip maker had been using for its now-defunct FLO TV video operation. AT&T will put the new spectrum to good use to bolster its 4G network rollout.

With the extra bandwidth under its belt and the potential offloading of data-hungry Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone customers to Verizon (NYSE: VZ) in the new year, chances are good that AT&T's services will improve significantly in 2011.

Will these tangible improvements be enough to overcome years of negative consumer sentiment over AT&T's lacking 3G services? If the company plays its hand right with the proper marketing strategy, it just might be. The trick is to convince consumers that 4G is a whole new ballgame and that it's time to forget about the 3G debacle.

Assuming that Verizon does get its hands on the iPhone in January, as many pundits predict, AT&T could also use the network shift to make an about-face in its handset selection. If the iPhone isn't an exclusive product anymore, why would AT&T put its marketing dollars behind the handset in a big way?

Better, then, to select a truly unique new angle and run with it. Nokia (NYSE: NOK) is looking for American network partners and could use some help in getting its high-end smartphones in front of U.S. customers. Android phones are hardly exclusive to anyone, but perhaps AT&T could convince Motorola (NYSE: MOT) or Samsung to create a stand-out model that no other network could get its hands on. There's already reports of a new Android-powered phone from Motorola that packs a powerful dual-core NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA) Tegra processor that's exclusively headed to AT&T in January. So, it looks like the ball of change is already rolling.

It's a new deal for AT&T in 2011, for better and for worse. The stock has underperformed the S&P 500 over the last year, partly due to heavy end-of-iPhone rumors, and now sports a fantastic dividend yield of nearly 6%. Maybe this is the time to load up on AT&T stock in preparation for a better 2011 -- or would you rather wait until Verizon finally drops the iPhone hammer? Discuss in the comments below.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Apple and NVIDIA are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. The Fool owns shares of Apple and Qualcomm. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.