T-Mobile USA's proposed sale of its wireless towers has attracted interest from major tower companies American Tower and Crown Castle, according to a Bloomberg report, which cited an unnamed source.
The report said that the potential sale has also attracted attention from private equity firms, though those firms were not named. There has been speculation that T-Mobile would try to sell its 7,000 U.S. towers ever since AT&T (NYSE:T) and Deutsche Telekom aborted their plans late last year for AT&T to buy T-Mobile for $39 billion. DT CFO Timotheus Hoettges has raised the possibility of a tower sale as a way to fund spectrum purchases.
A Deutsche Telekom spokesman declined to comment.
T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said in May that the carrier was still interested in selling some of its wireless towers and had received a great deal of interest, but that the process could take "several months to pan out," and was just beginning. Analysts have said such a sale could net DT $2 billion to $3 billion. A tower sale might also make sense given that AT&T gave T-Mobile a seven-year UMTS roaming agreement that will allow T-Mobile to expand its coverage to 280 million POPs from 230 million.
The tower sale is just one part of T-Mobile's network transformation, which includes a deployment of LTE next year. By the end of June T-Mobile expects to install new, LTE-capable base station equipment at 400 cell sites and will grow that number to 2,500 sites by the end of July.
T-Mobile is currently testing LTE network technology and that the carrier will begin testing LTE Release-10 equipment--dubbed LTE Advanced--in the summer. Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Nokia Siemens Networks are the vendors for T-Mobile's $4 billion network upgrade project.
- see this Bloomberg article
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