After the merger with AT&T went belly up, Deutsche Telekom halted its plan to sell its tower assets last year. T-Mobile owns more than 7,000 wireless towers.
A sale is seen generating as much as $3 billion a year for T-Mobile, according to J.P. Morgan analyst Philip Cusick.
T-Mobile is spending $4 billion to improve its current service and deploy its 4G LTE network by next year. Much of the funds come from a break-up fee that AT&T had to pay T-Mobile for scrapping their planned merger, but more cash is likely needed in order for the business to run on its own with investment from its parent. Last week, T-Mobile said it would cut a net 1,900 jobs after shutting down seven call centers as it looks to continue cutting expenses.
But if T-Mobile is deploying a new LTE network, it will need towers. Perhaps that implies co-location with Sprint-Nextel is more likely. If T-Mobile should move its assets to Sprint towers, that also implies that Dish Networks will need a home. AT&T and Sprint towers might then be leading contenders for hosting Dish’s terrestrial network, which would use the 2.1 GHz (MSS) spectrum (near T-Mobile’s AWS band).
At the Rural Cellular Association spring expo in Orlando today, Cricket Wireless, the nation’s sixth-largest wireless carrier, called for smaller carriers to band together and share spectrum to offer better service. RCA members include nearly every carrier in the U.S. except AT&T and Verizon.
Sprint said it will have six LTE markets up by mid-year, far less than either AT&T or Verizon Wireless. “The duopolists are out there deploying their LTE networks, and we’re working really hard to compete with them,” Bob Azzi, Sprint’s SVP of network, said in his opening keynote, streamed live by RCR Wireless.
Sprint CFO Joseph Euteneuer told investors this week that Sprint might consider buying spectrum from Dish or signing a spectrum-hosting deal which would allow Dish to offer wireless services via a combination of Sprint’s network and the 40 MHz of S-band spectrum that Dish holds, reports Fierce Wireless. Sprint’s Network Vision program unifies its many networks and offers an opportunity for Sprint to host other carriers on its cell sites.