T-Mobile: No Spectrum Deal…Yet

Posted by Sam Churchill on

T-Mobile USA may sell nonstrategic assets such as its broadcast cellular towers in order to raise additional funds for capital spending, reports Reuters.

Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Obermann said today that the No. 4 U.S. mobile service would only sell the assets if it needed additional capital beyond its typical spending requirements, and only if it got a good price.

Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Obermann (above), said the company has 54MHz of spectrum in its core markets, which is sufficient for growth today. But the company will need more spectrum for growth in the future.

To help fund the purchase or partnership for more spectrum, Obermann said that T-Mobile USA will sell “non-core assets,” such as wireless towers. The “Reinvent” program is aimed to make additional gross savings of USD 1 billion by 2013.

The company would sell some 7,000 cellular towers — but only if it could get a good price.

“We’re definitely not in a rush,” he told reporters ahead of the company’s financial analyst meeting in New York, adding that a sale would depend on whether “the financials work out.”

T-Mobile USA hopes to grow revenue by USD $3 billion by 2014 under the “Grow” program.

The company plans to offer competitive data plans in the top 100 U.S. markets. The company plans to go “big” with Android smartphones.

“We estimate that 150 million Americans want smartphones,” said Philipp Humm, T-Mobile USA’s chief executive officer. He said T-Mobile USA is creating a $10 data plan for smartphones and will push to sell the devices below $100 apiece. IDC expects 44.6 million tablets to ship in 2011 and 70.8 million in 2012.

The company said LTE technology will be introduced once devices are readily available and once device quality is on par with the HSPA+ network, although that will probably not be for a few years.

There was no commitment to buy (or not buy) spectrum assets from Clearwire, which had been rumored.

Where will T-Mobile get spectrum for LTE? It’s still not clear (small “c”).

T-Mobile was coy about any spectrum partnership. If T-Mobile is lucky, Lightsquared might fall onto their lap. The downside would be dealing with the unique satellite/terrestrial frequencies and hand-off. Additionally, they’d probably have to build more towers, not sell them off. Clearwire LTE could use commercial, off the shelf gear…and share infrastructure costs. That seems a safer bet for T-Mobile.

From an engineering point of view, a Sprint/T-Mobile LTE merger might create three, nearly equal, cellular operators in the United States…and a management ****storm.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Thursday, January 20th, 2011 at 8:47 am .

Leave a Reply