T-Mobile mulling JV to enhance spectrum position

T-Mobile USA confirmed that it has talked with Clearwire and various cable companies about a possible joint venture to enhance the company's spectrum position.  

According to Reuters, CEO Robert Dotson told analysts at an investor conference that the company has considered such a move. "We continue to look at JV opportunities for additional spectrum... there are a number of different options we look at, (we) have been talking with cable companies, with Clearwire." A Clearwire spokeswoman declined to comment.

Dotson said that T-Mobile, the nation's No. 4 carrier, will not be counting on the FCC's national broadband plan to fulfill its spectrum needs. The plan, which was released Tuesday, calls for freeing up 500 MHz of spectrum for mobile broadband over the next 10 years, 300 MHz of which are expected to be freed within the next five years.

Dotson also said that T-Mobile, which is struggling with subscriber growth, would not be looking to partner with Sprint Nextel, which has been losing postpaid subscribers. "What you never want to do is take one company that is going through challenges and take another company going through challenges," he said, adding that T-Mobile is "not looking at how you change the configuration of the U.S. market."

Last fall, Bloomberg reported that Deutsche Telekom was in talks with Clearwire and MetroPCS about gaining access to their spectrum holdings to further its mobile broadband ambitions. T-Mobile does not have 700 MHz spectrum licenses like its larger rivals AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless, which are using the spectrum to build out their LTE networks. T-Mobile holds AWS spectrum licenses and is deploying HSPA+ technology, which it hopes to have deployed across the breadth of its network by year-end.

Expanding access to mobile broadband is key to T-Mobile USA, according to Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Obermann. The company is considering a potential initial public offering of T-Mobile, but has not made any final decision about the unit's fate. Obermann told the Financial Times that he plans on boosting T-Mobile's performance by attracting customers who want to use smartphones.

"The most important thing in 2010 is to lay the foundation for future growth," he said at the company's annual investor day. "We believe that the mobile internet in the U.S. has only just begun and is going to be a growth story for many years."

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this FT article

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