T-Mobile taking 5G network buildout slower than tower companies expected


One of the major reasons that T-Mobile wanted to acquire Sprint was spectrum that it could use to bolster its 5G network. However, according to one tower company, T-Mo is going a bit slower than expected with its post-merger 5G buildout.

During an earnings call this week, American Tower said that it had expected more new business from T-Mobile because of increased tower activity. There’s only been a small increase in new business from T-Mo, though, which has caused American Tower to revise its organic tenant billings growth outlook for the rest of the year.

The company does feel that T-Mobile will ramp up its spending on towers later, with American Tower CEO Tom Bartlett saying that T-Mo is “working through all their plans” following the Sprint merger. “So, we believe it clearly is timing, and are looking forward to really supporting [T-Mobile] as they continue to build out their network even further.”

Analyst firm MoffettNathanson echoed the sentiment that T-Mobile will eventually get its 5G buildout going. “T-Mobile has a long track record of accomplishing a great deal of network-related work quickly and efficiently, so it would be inappropriate to draw too many conclusions so early in the process,” said MoffettNathanson analyst Nick Del Rio.

Meanwhile, another major tower company also appears to have called out T-Mobile. During its own earnings call this week, Crown Castle CFO Dan Schlanger said that “the full rebound in activity on towers is ocurring a bit slower than we previously expected,” which Light Reading points out is a reference to T-Mobile.

T-Mobile pledged to make a huge effort to expand its 5G network when it was working to get its merger with Sprint complete. It said it would cover 97% of the US population with low-band 5G and 75% with mid-band 5G within three years of the merger’s close and that it would spend nearly $40 billion over three years to expand its network and business.

Since the merger closed, T-Mo has expanded its low-band 5G coverage to some more areas and brought mid-band 5G to parts of 5 cities. Some analysts are optimistic that can get its buildout going quickly, so we could see quite a few more 5G network improvements later this year following the T-Mobile-Sprint unification that’s happening on August 2.

Sources: Fierce Wireless, Light Reading

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