Likely Buyer Emerges For Purchase Of T-Mobile Towers

Cellphone tower operator Crown Castle International is now said to be the leading bidder on T-Mobile’s 7,000 towers in a deal worth more than $2 billion, said people familiar with the matter.

According to the Wall Street Journal, rival tower operators American Tower and Global Tower Partners are still in the mix, but talks with Crown Castle are “more advanced after final bids landed in early July.”

Negotiations with Crown Castle could still fail and it’s unclear how any such deal would be structured as tower deals tend to be particular complicated. Deutsche Telekom hopes that the sale of T-Mobile’s 7,000 US towers would raise plenty of cash to help T-Mobile upgrade its network to LTE.

For instance, the money could help T-Mobile buy the spectrum it has agreed to buy in a swap with Verizon Wireless in exchange for T-Mobile’s support of Verizon’s proposed purchase of spectrum from SpectrumCo.

According to the Journal report, it could still be months before a deal, if any is reached. Crown Castle, based in Houston, owns, operates or leases around 23,800 towers in the US, Puerto Rico and Australia.

Wall Street Journal

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  • BigMixxx

    Hmm…Why no american tower?  Apparently there is some prior history there under powertel.  I personally would have liked to see them with American tower as they just have a better product set and a lot more flexibility when it comes to indoor tower coverage.  

    • Maxsurfer01

      Here lately American tower has been pretty restrictive with there locations ie.. putting up no climb signs, and the hassle of the wanting a ticket open every time you visit a site this wouldn’t be a big deal if there hold times weren’t so long. Crown is a lot more flexible and they are really quick to follow up with ground maintenance complaints.

      • MastarPete

        Not sure how much of this applies to either Crown or American Tower, but it could be a source of some of the restrictions that American Tower has in place if they are thinking of the safety of the tower workers.

        Back in May PBS’ Frontline aired a report called “Cell Tower Deaths” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/cell-tower-deaths/

  • Be Phucvu

    My iphone still get stuck on edge. I am in rochester new york, what the hell is tmobile doing? It is last month of summer. Come on tmobile, how much longer will i need to wait to see my iphone get 3g icon

    • Hugh Jabutt

      I don’t know of you know this, but the iPhone doesn’t get T-Mobile 3G because the wireless radios are not compatible. Its not that you don’t get coverage, its that the iPhone doesn’t work on the same wireless band.

      • Ghuayu

        By the end Of the Year all Tmobile HSPA+ will be operate under 1900 Frequency by then all iPhone and other ATT devices will eventually works at the Tmobile HSPA+ network.

        • Abc

           is it region specific or all of USA where T-mobile range is currently covered?
          I know t-mobile doesnt have coverage everywhere…but where current coverage exists, by the end of year, will ALL AT&T Devices work under t-mobile due to this 1900 frequency change? I have an AT&T phone (GS3) with me, but currently not using it due to Bands difference..but would be interested in this not selling it away..

    • Can_2_92

      You do know that the iPhone is not being directly sold by T-Mobile, the main reasons is because Apple has not made the iPhone capable of having T-Mobile 3G/4G radio bands. Your iPhone brought into T-Mobile being stuck on EDGE is more of the phone hardware being limited to not going beyong EDGE (at least on T-Mobile’s network).

      • http://robert.aitchison.org raitchison

        It would be trivial for Apple to make an iPhone that’s compatible with the TMO HSPA network, they’d just need different radio firmware.

        The real reason there is no iPhone on T-Mobile is that TMO can’t afford to sell it, unlike every other phone carriers actually lose money on day one when they sell an iPhone subsidized due to the prices Apple charges.  TMO probably pays Samsung about $250-$300 for a phone like the Galaxy SIII (after all the accounting smoke & mirrors are taken into account) but they’d have to pay Apple well over $500 for an iPhone.

    • MacRat

      T-Mobile has publicly stated that the refarming of frequencies won’t be completed until the end of the year.

  • ghulamsameer

    I feel like T-Mobile is being a lot smarter with their money. Sell here, save here, and they can actually afford their goals, unlike Sprint.

  • Deadeye37

    So if they sell the towers to a 3rd party, I assume the 3rd party would be the ones who would charge T-mobile to upgrade the towers to LTE and also charges T-mobile for maintenance.  In other words, this would give T-mobile cash in their pockets now, but might cost more in the long run.  Is that correct, or is it actually a cost savings to T-mobile since they don’t have the extra overhead to maintain these towers?  Also, would other operators be able to start using those towers also since its a 3rd party that controls the towers?

    • Kevev

       T-Mobile would be able to install and maintain their own antennas and equipment on these towers. They would be leasing space from the new tower owner(Crown). This should also free up cash for T-Mobile to install antennas on towers not owned by T-Mobile or Crown. Maybe with this we will be provided better rural and city coverage. Time will tell.

  • Guest

    I have great coverage with “ATT”4G LTE. in west palm beach.Florida.!!!!!!!!!!

    • Justinreynolds98

      That’s the reality and the gra$$ isn’t always greener, cost and value is what makes T-Mobile still the best option.

    • 21stNow

       Curious as to why this comment is in multiple threads on this website.  If this comment is for real, the activation fee would have to be considered in your “math”.  However, I doubt that this comment is for real.

      • Guest

        Mind your own business dude.what a jerk off you are.

        • 21stNow

           Such foul language.  And by the way, I’m not a dude.

        • Guest

          I apologize for my rude language.

        • 21stNow

           Thanks!

  • http://robert.aitchison.org raitchison

    So they are selling the towers, spending some on an LTE network but probably sending most to DT.

    Fast forward a few years and DT will be complaining about the “long term liabilities” of the TMO network and begin to end tower leases for “cost efficiency” reasons.  TMO’s already spotty network coverage begins to look like swiss cheese.

    A few years after than after TMO is hemorrhaging customers DT will sell off the ashes of the company for whatever they can get. T-Mobile becomes a MVNO brand for AT&T (who’s free to buy what’s left of TMO because TMO no longer has significant market share)

    • UMA_Fan

      It’s shocking how much of this ‘crazy talk’ there is after the attempted at&t merger.

      T-Mobile is DT’s asset and they OBVIOUSLY will do everything within reason to make it successful.  The issue has always been whether DT will do ENOUGH for the US branch.

      The at&t merger would have resulted in the two most powerful telecommunications companies in both the US and Europe.  It was a special case, there’s nothing else like that out there.

      Even if you buy that DT’s long term goal is to rid itself of T-Mobile USA, making moves to LOWER it’s worth by terminating tower lease agreements is just asinine logic.  At the very least, they would make T-Mobile USA look as good as it can so DT can get the most for their money.

      My money is on DT WANTING tmobile to be successful.  The problem is we are in a limbo period where we have to see if aligning our network to be exactly the same spectrum wise with at&t will pay off.  Once Tmobile has the PCS HSPA+/AWS LTE going nationwide along with carrying the iPhone then I think that will be the only point to see if T-Mobile can effectively compete and return to growth because they’ll be competing evenly.

      • http://robert.aitchison.org raitchison

        DT can’t sell TMO at it’s current strength.

        Their network is incompatible with Sprint’s and Sprint doesn’t have the money anyways.

        VZW is way too big and a buyout would be shot down by regulators, plus again the network is incompatible.

        Google has the money but regulators would never allow it.

        AT&T was their only shot.

        Converting assets into long term liabilities is NOT a strategy for long term success, it’s the moral equivalent of getting a payday loan.

        Once the tower sale happens TMOs value as a company will plummet overnight, if TMOs network coverage continues to degrade, (which it will because improving the network without your own towers instantly becomes more expensive and terminating leases on towers helps stem the tide of red on your balance sheet) they will lose even more customers.

        Before too long there won’t be much value left in the T-Mobile brand, DT could then sell off the remaining assets (spectrum, the brand itself, etc.) piecemeal to whoever is willing to buy them, since TMO will have already ceased to be a player in the market there won’t be any reason for regulators to get involved this time.

    • Maxsurfer01

      Its funny what people think. Sprint sold its towers years ago they also farmed out there operations department to Ericsson but yet there still around.

  • UMA_Fan

    Whatever happened with that at&t 3G roaming deal?  Not that I know anyone who would need it but I’m sure it’ll help people who need 3G in the boonies where T-Mobile might not offer service.

    • Joseph Tongret

      I’m curious about this deal as well. There was alot of talk about the att 3G roaming, and then it just seemed to fade? I’d also like to hear more from Tmo on when & where they will deploy the 1900 band. I’m hoping it’s not going to be a just a few random areas, but rather most of their existing coverage areas. I’m depending on this for import devices & I’m more excited about this then I am lte!

  • Dfireballwow

    Great more roaming on someone else’s towers. That 200 mb goes really fast when your job is driving for a living. This really is not a far deal for people that travel for a living.

    • https://www.facebook.com/michael.t.delgado Michael D

      No you don’t understand the nature of the deal.  They will sell the towers and then lease them back.  They will still be T-Mobile’s towers under contract which means no to roaming.  They just want to make a quick buck and finance it like a loan through leasing payments.  Dumb in my opinion though.

      • http://tmonews.com David

        Exactly, I think this people are misunderstanding the terms of this deal. This won’t affect coverage at all.

  • https://www.facebook.com/michael.t.delgado Michael D

    The deal seems counter intuitive.  It’s like taking out a short term loan from any of these shady companies like Payday loans, Secure Title loans, ect.  Sure you get some money up front but then you pay out the ass in interest/fees/service costs.  42mbps is damn fast.  Sure, upgrade as needed but don’t make silly decisions like this that will drive up the costs which you will undoubtedly need to pass on to the customers.

  • thegeeknme

    wow… lots of confusion here… it sounds to me that this is more like ‘selling a building’ to a ‘management’ company and then leasing the “1″ floor I need to use, while letting the ‘other floors’ be used by others. It’s not about selling the actual ‘antenna hardware/spectrum’ it’s about physical structures the equipment is attached to. Seems to make sense to me… let another company who’s an ‘expert’ at leasing the ‘space’ for multiple networks deal with trying to ‘lease out’ the ‘space’ on the physical structures and such to other companies.

  • M42

    Well, if T-Mobile was so smart they would be building out HSPA+84 instead of fragmenting their 4G network and trying to get into the “me too” LTE arena where they pitifully trail everybody else. Once a leader in 4G and now they’re back of the pack also rans – all just to try to get the iPhone. That doesn’t impress me as being smart at all.