Menu
The Tech News Blog

T-Mobile Mum on Reports of MetroPCS Merger

May 10, 2012

T-Mobile was coy today when asked about reports that its parent company, Deutsche Telekom AG, is pursuing a merger with MetroPCS.

"You will understand that we don't comment on speculations," T-Mobile CEO and president Philipp Humm said during a Thursday call with reporters.

AT&T's failed bid to acquire T-Mobile, he said, was intended to strengthen T-Mobile USA's business and evolve it "to become a self-funding platform," Humm continued. But even without AT&T, "that's the strategy we're pursuing, so unfortunately no news to tell."

Questions about MetroPCS came up after Bloomberg reported today that Deutsche Telekom was pursuing a stock swap with MetroPCS, which would give DT control over the merged company. Bloomberg said DT was also considering a complete sale of T-Mobile USA and that other firms were in the running.

Back when the AT&T/T-Mobile deal was faltering, there were reports - also from Bloomberg - that AT&T tried to sell assets to Sprint, MetroPCS, Leap Wireless, and others to make the merger more appealing to regulators.

With the AT&T deal over, T-Mobile is now focusing on 4G LTE. Last month, the FCC approved the transfer of spectrum from AT&T to T-Mobile, which was a condition of the merger's demise. The move will provide T-Mobile with Advanced Wireless Systems (AWS) spectrum in 128 cellular markets, including 12 of the top 20.

In February, T-Mobile announced plans to roll out its 4G LTE network next year, thanks in large part to the spectrum and money it got from the AT&T breakup. That effort, dubbed the "Challenger Strategy" is in "full swing," Humm said today.

In recent weeks, T-Mobile has signed agreements with Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks to deploy LTE-capable equipment at 37,000 cell sites in 2012 and 2013, he said.

Humm also talked up T-Mobile's re-branding effort, which saw its spokeswoman Carly ditch the pink dress for black leather and a motorcycle (above). The company transformed her "from girlish to edgy to reflect the transformation of the T-Mobile brand," Humm said.

When asked if T-Mobile might pursue some of the 700-MHz spectrum that Verizon is trying to sell, Humm said it was "not interesting."

"It is incomplete from a footprint point of view and ... most of the spectrum is in the A-block, where there is interference with the channel 51 TV stations," Humm said. "And this will most likely take three to six years to resolve, if at all. The remaining spectrum is in the B-block, but that's also only 50 million POPs."

Overall, the Verizon spectrum doesn't address the real issue, Humm said, which is the prime spectrum Verizon will acquire through the $3.6 billion deal with the cable companies. Verizon said it will only sell its 700-MHz spectrum if regulators approve the cable deal. T-Mobile, Sprint, and other carriers have objected to the deal, which also includes a business component whereby the cable firms bundle Verizon Wireless mobile service with their packages.

"Verizon would simply have a lot of very good AWS spectrum, which they have been hoarding in the past anyway. So that there is a need for divestitures ... on spectrum," Humm said.

On the customer front, T-Mobile said it added 187,000 customers in the first quarter, compared to a loss of 99,000 during the same time period last year.




Cell Phones Televisions Digital Cameras Computers Shop All Electronics