T-Mobile comes out fighting; considers cell tower sale to fund improvements

12 Jan 2012

T-Mobile USA is reportedly finalising a new business plan which may include a sale of its wireless towers to help pay for a network upgrade. According to Reuters the cellco hopes to rebuild its business after AT&T’s long-planned USD39 billion takeover attempt fell foul of the US Department of Justice (DoJ), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and a host of rival mobile operators. The deal was eventually abandoned in December 2011. CEO Philip Humm told reporters at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that: ‘T-Mobile USA is alive and we are back in fighting spirit’, and promised to reveal more details about the company’s strategy later this quarter. After ‘nine months in limbo’ Humm said that the company’s brand needs reinvigorating, and its network requires substantial investment. The chief executive also admitted that the company needs to reduce its customer cancellation rates, which rose during the uncertainty caused by the protracted merger process. In order to fund its network improvements, chief technology officer Neville Ray told Reuters that the cellco is looking into whether it can sell off a number of cell towers. This was an option the company was reportedly considering a year ago, prior to the ill-fated deal. Ray commented: ‘We’re looking at that as an option right now to see if it makes sense. That’s still an option. We believe the market is still as strong as it was’.

In other news, T-Mobile confirmed that it has doubled the speed of its HSPA+ network to 42Mbps in twelve additional markets; the network improvements mean that the cellco now offers DC-HSPA+ to around 184 million Americans in 175 markets. In addition, T-Mobile has expanded the reach of its HSPA+ network to nine new markets, which now covers 217 locations across the country and reaches more than 200 million people. Going forward, as a result of the breakup of T-Mobile’s long-running merger with AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile stands to receive – pending regulatory approval – a large package of AWS mobile spectrum in 128 Cellular Market Areas (CMAs), including twelve of the so-called ‘top 20’ markets. CTO Neville Ray admitted: ‘The breakup spectrum gives us an option that wasn’t there a year ago’, adding that it could put the company in ‘reasonably good shape’.

United States, T-Mobile US