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T-Mobile’s exploration of a sale of its tower system could net the company as much as $3 billion for parent Deutsche Telekom, according to Macquarie Capital USA Inc. Macquarie analyst Kevin Smithen wrote in a note that American Tower Corp., Crown Castle International Corp. and SBA Communications Corp are all in “a hotly contested auction” of T-Mobile towers. The expected price is at least $2.25 billion but could go as high as $3 billion.
“All three tower companies have expressed strong interest” in T-Mobile towers, Smithen wrote.
T-Mobile is considering the tower sale as a way to fund future spectrum purchases and a LTE network, Deutsche Telekom’s Chief Financial Officer Timotheus Hoettges said last month.
Smithen estimated that T-Mobile currently has 7,500, making up the largest network that would go up for sale barring any future offer from AT&T or Verizon Wireless.
Deutsche Telekom declined to comment as did representatives for American Tower, Crown Castle and SBA communications.
This move isn’t unheard of as Sprint undertook a similar offer three years ago agreeing to sell their cellular towers to TowerCo and then signing a lease for the same towers. Sprint sold approximately 3,080 towers raising $670 million dollars which went to pay down Sprint’s debt. This move wouldn’t see T-Mobile giving up any tower space nor would coverage be affected in anyway. T-Mobile would simply turn from buyer to leaser and pocketing the cash. I’d much rather see T-Mobile build an LTE network on their own through the money generated via a tower sale than having to seek an outside partner.