US mobile operators T-Mobile USA and Leap Wireless have announced plans to swap some of their radio spectrum assets, with a view to improving coverage in a number of markets. The deal also involves Cook Inlet/VS GSM VII PCS, a joint venture between T-Mobile and Cook Inlet, a company in which T-Mobile has a non-controlling majority interest, as well as Leap’s non-controlled, majority-owned venture Savary Island Wireless. If granted regulatory approval, the swap will result in Leap acquiring 10MHz of additional AWS spectrum in Phoenix, Arizona and Houston, Galveston and Bryan-College Station (all Texas) to supplement its existing frequencies in those markets. In exchange, Leap and Savary Island have agreed to assign T-Mobile and Cook Inlet spectrum in parts of Alabama, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The transactions also include intra-market exchanges between Leap, T-Mobile and Cook Inlet, in Philadelphia, Wilmington, Atlantic City and various markets in Texas and New Mexico, and between Leap and Cook Inlet in specified markets in Texas.
Doug Hutcheson, Leap’s president and chief executive officer, commented: ‘These transactions will enhance our spectrum depth in these markets and provide us longer term flexibility to offer a larger Long Term Evolution (LTE) channel. As we have previously announced, we plan to cover approximately two-thirds of our current network footprint with LTE technology over the next two to three years. In addition, the transactions will allow us to re-align spectrum in key markets into contiguous channels thereby optimising our delivery of wireless services’. The financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed.