T-Mobile reportedly slows deployment of new cell sites, payments to contractors

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We heard last month that T-Mobile and Sprint’s merger was reportedly causing T-Mo to pause its purchase orders on new builds and 5G upgrades, and now more info on how the delay in the merger’s completion is affecting tower companies that are working with T-Mobile.

Tower companies such as American Tower, SBA Communications, Crown Castle, and others say that T-Mobile’s deployment of new cell sites has slowed quite a bit lately. According to research firm Wells Fargo, tower companies have been told by their T-Mobile contacts that the issue is related to the fact that the T-Mobile-Sprint merger still isn’t done. The slowdown is said to be primarily affecting macro cell sites and not small cells.

Meanwhile, a separate report says that T-Mobile contractors aren’t getting the payments from T-Mo that they expect. Twelve contractors speaking to Wireless Estimator say that T-Mobile hasn’t paid their bills, with agreements that have payment terms of 60 days but are now at 100 or 120 days. What’s more, these contractors say they’re not getting much info from higher-ups on the matter, either.

Wells Fargo has also heard that T-Mobile isn’t being prompt with its payments. One vendor described it as a “systematic conservation of capital.”

In response to this Wells Fargo report, a T-Mobile spokesperson told Light Reading that the carrier is still working to expand LTE coverage while also laying the foundation for a nationwide 5G network in 2020. The spokesperson added that T-Mobile is on track to reach the high end of its capital expenditures guidance of $5.8 billion to $6.1 billion for the year.

When they first announced their merger in mid-2018, T-Mobile and Sprint said that they expected the deal to close in the first half of 2019. Obviously that didn’t happen because we’re in the final few months of the year and the deal isn’t done. The merger is facing a lawsuit from 18 state attorneys general who want to block the deal, and that trial is set to begin on December 9. With that date, T-Mobile and Sprint may may have to wait until 2020 to close their merger.

Sources: Light Reading, Wireless Estimator

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  • The Borg

    Maybe TMO customers need to slow up our payments and see how much they like that.

    • ^^ ALL OF THIS ^^

    • Sayahh

      They’re slowing payments to blackmail people into supporting the merger. Classic Trumpian tactic.

      • Francisco Peña

        thanks for bringing politics into this when we didn’t ask for it. I guess since you did delve into it, I could say “they’re paying folks less for the same work, classic Hillary Clinton (a Dem) tactic”

        • Sayahh

          Trump did this back when he was still a Democrat. Scratch that, back when he was a Democrat, he just stiffed his contractors.

  • Glenn Gore

    The anti-merger crowd (AT&T, Verizon, et al) have been incredibly successful in delaying the merger, and will continue to do so for years to come, until such point as both Sprint and T-Mobile suffer seriously, to the point of going out of business, and then will snap them up in a heartbeat, thereby relieving themselves of 2 competitors and the FCC will be powerless to stop it. We should have seen this coming a long time ago.

    • Sayahh

      So can’t T-Mobile wait until Sprint goes under then snap it up like AT&T and Verizon? Remember at&t Tmo merger that neither company can live without? T-Mobile is stronger than ever; imaging what would happen if they raised prices.

      Sprint fucked themselves up. They’ll only drag T-Mobile down with them. The current FCC wants the merger BECAUSE it will reduce competition. Besides, mergers always cost jobs.

      • Francisco Peña

        VZW ant ATT have bigger paychecks.. they’d be able to gobble up Sprint resources better than TMo.

        • Sayahh

          Antitrust regulators will not let that happen. AT&T gobbling up DirecTV shouldn’t have happened or approved in the first place IMO, and now AT&T is about to shed their acquisition.

          Disclaimer: I hold TMUS stocks and none of of other three. It is in my best interest for stock prices to go up but my worst interest for the merger to go through as a customer.

      • Glenn Gore

        Sure they could, but as the article states, it is T-Mobile who is starting to show signs of stress from the long delays in the proposed merger. Sprint, despite their financial and operational state, is forging full steam ahead on deploying 5G on their mid-band spectrum across their system, seemingly unaffected by anything. Granted, they have a MUCH smaller native footprint that they will have to cover than any other carrier, inducing T-Mobile, but they are indeed making progress. I just hope the delays do not cause too much harm to T-Mobile.

  • steveb944

    Great so we’re going to be behind on 5G unless we’re able to clamp onto Sprint’s plan.

    • marque2

      TMobile needs to know one way or another – they will be implementing a more limited 5g with different spectrum if Sprint fails to go through – so if they invest now with the lesser 5g TMobile only plan that effort could all be wasted if Sprint goes through.

  • bkat11

    All the slamming if Verizon and now this. I’m almost tempted to switch to AT&T with this horseshit

    • JJ

      Huh? You are going of an article with information about “possibly raising prices”? It hasn’t happened yet and if att data speeds are better than tmobile in your area with the same prices, then i say switch already. Just go with what works best. No reason to stick to just one company.

      • bkat11

        Who said anything about prices? I’m talking about them slowing down deployment.

  • disqus_7XunpanFgK

    Yep, the anti-merger people claim that the merger will hurt pricing. Complete and utter horsesh!t. Because of their actions, not only is Sprint still likely to go bankrupt (leaving us with 3 national carriers), it will also leave T-Mobile in an unenvious far distant 3rd place in terms of customers. T-Mobile will have no choice but to raise pricing.
    This is exactly the outcome Verizon and ATT wanted. The anti-merger folks are simply either to stupid to see it or being paid by the other 2 carriers to lobby against the merger.

    • Sayahh

      “T-Mobile will have no choice but to raise pricing.” Isn’t each subsequent plan more expensive than the last?

      Also, they promised not to raise prices for at least two years AFTER MERGING. doesn’t sound comforting to me.

      • Shaun Michalak

        Wrong.. They said 3 years with no price increase if it goes through.. But the fact is, until they let it go through, that leaves them with the ability to raise prices up until then.. I would also like to mention that right now, Verizon is raising their prices, because if you want 5g on the phone, it costs an extra $10 a month. T-Mobile and Sprint at not raising their prices for their 5G though.

        • Sayahh

          I didn’t bother looking up the specific number of years, but 3 is at least 2 the last time I checked. So if Big Blue and Big Red are raising prices with 4 carriers, when there are only 3 carriers prices will surely go down?

        • JJ

          The merger hasn’t gone through so no time has gone by on the 3 years.

        • Sayahh

          Didn’t say it any has; was pointing out that I couldn’t remember if they promised two or three so I went with the lower number without looking it up a-la The Price Is Right mentality. But thanks for confirming another commenter’s assertion that it was 3.

        • JJ

          No problem

      • JJ

        They promised to not raise prices for 3 years “after merger”. And all current plans will be grandfathered in. On top of that, as they raise prices, so does att and verizon.

    • dcmanryan

      Well, if they raise prices they’ll definitely lose customers. Their service is far worse in Utah where I am over Verizon and AT&T but gets me by. If my family plan approaches the price of the other two carriers there’s no reason to stay.

      • Francisco Peña

        I pay $85 for 3 unlimited lines with TMo. If I have to go to $100 for better coverage, its still better than $180+ I’d have at VZW.

        • dcmanryan

          I’d stay too. If it gets with in $20 of the other two I’d leave in a heartbeat. I’m paying $160 for 6 lines. Which is way less than the other two carriers currently.

        • Francisco Peña

          exactly. there gets to be a point where the value isn’t worth it, and definitely within $20 of the others is no longer worth it. Someone above said raise prices to the same as VZW/ATT. If that happened, there would be mass cancelation of service. I’d be pissed with the coverage at that price, so I’d jump in a heartbeat.

        • dcmanryan

          Agree. T-Mobile can claim all they want, bash other companies all they want, but as a whole, and for most people they’re in 3rd place for a reason. Coverage is not as good and spotty. I can litterally go 1 mile in a city with well over 100k people and go from 80 Mbps to 1.5 Mbps. This is not in one isolated area either but multiple times in multiple times of the same size. My main T-Mobile store I go-to has download speeds of 1.5 to 3 Mbps max. Pretty sad really. And no, the store is not burried in a mall either.

      • JJ

        Well thank goodness not everyone lives in utah. I couldn’t stand tmobile about 8 years ago. But i gave them another chance after verizon raised prices and now iv’e had them for over 5 years and it’s only been improvement after improvement. I have one line plan and my wife is on verizon and she can barely use here data because of congestion. I’m having to constantly use my tmobile hotspot to help her speeds. Overall, the solution is to choose what works for you and shop around. No reason to stick with one service when there are many choices.

  • pda96

    As I have stated over and over again for the past year, I’ve noticed NO noticeable improvement in coverage or data speed where I live and play. So all these announcements about LTE upgrades are fake news as far as I’m concern.

    • Shaun Michalak

      It depends on where you are at. Have you seen your area on the list of upgrades yet? If not, then I bet you will see a difference when they do get to your area. I personally have seen noticeable upgrades in my area.. Not as much as I like, but I have gone from getting no data connection, or one so slow it was not even worth mentioning, at least half of the time, to I very rarely can not get one. A year ago, I would have been lucky to get 2 meg down, 3 if I did it in the middle of the night.. Now, I just did one a few seconds ago, at 10pm, and I got a speed of 4.37 meg down.. Sometimes, on the high end I can get 8 to 10 meg down. So I know that they are doing some upgrades. I live in PA, and I have been to places in OH where a year ago, most of the time I got no data connection, where I now get at least a slow connection almost at all times.Slow is still better then none.

      • riverhorse

        I second this both locally and on the road, although there are still plenty weak spots. As well, phone wear and tear does come into play even only after a few months. My new phone downloads circles around all the other ones in use

    • JJ

      lol. You live in one area of the us. You are not the only one that improvements will benefit. When it comes to cell coverage you pick what works for you where you work and play. One service isn’t the cure to all issues. That’s why it’s great there are no contracts anymore and it’s wise to only buy unlocked so you can change services when you need to.

  • Shaun Michalak

    Personally, I think that they should just start doing things to blow the minds of the AG’s.. You know that if T-Mobile and Sprint started raising their prices, that AT&T and Verizon would follow suit. Verizon is already charging $10 more for 5G.. So if the AG’s want to play their little game, then play it back at them. They say it will be less competition.. Fine.. Have sprint do stuff to go more into debt, and then file bankruptcy.. They could still get out of that one, but when suddenly one of the big 4 is now on the verge of closing.. What are they going to say then, when they are on the verge of only 3 carriers, and their is not a thing that they can do about it??

    T-Mobile and Sprint, get together and both raise their prices up to what AT&T and Verizon already charge.. When they complains.. Say, well, we tried to avoid this but you did not want to seem to listen, so if you are going to blame me for it, I mine as well do what you are blaming me for. Do you know how this would make the AG’s look when they start blocking it on the pretense of something, then suddenly they have to explain why when they had the chance to keep that from happening, they utterly failed, and now everything that they complained about is happening because they blocked the merger.. After all, there is no way to stop a company from going out of business, now is there.. or raising prices.. Play their game in a way that make them look like idiots.

    • Francisco Peña

      I TMo up their prices to what VZW charges, i’m out. I can deal with some poor coverage in my area for the price I pay, but if I get that same poor coverage for a VZW price, then I’d be pissed, and leave. I have too many choices to sit and deal with it.

  • JJ

    Why are they laughing? All tmobile is doing is slowing down payments to save money so that after merger they can go even faster. Even now verizon and att are still losing customers and tmobile gaining more. Even if this fails, both sprint and tmobile will still be in play in mobile industry.

  • ugp5

    They upgraded my hood. So, there’s that. As long as my price and service don’t change for the worse, I will stay put.