T-Mobile announced today that it will sell the rights to about 7,200 towers for $2.4 billion, which it will use to build out its 4G LTE network.
Crown Castle will acquire the towers for $2.4 billion in cash, which will provide Crown with the exclusive right to lease and operate the towers for 28 years. Crown will then have the option to buy the towers.
T-Mobile has committed to running its communications facilities on Crown Castle's towers for at least 10 years.
"We are pleased to reach this mutually beneficial agreement with Crown Castle and take another step closer to realizing the bold vision outlined in our Challenger strategy to solidify our competitiveness in the industry by investing in areas where we anticipate the strongest return for our customers," John Legere, T-Mobile's new CEO, said in a statement. "T-Mobile USA is working aggressively to make our 4G network stronger, faster and more dependable for consumers, and this transaction will support our ongoing $4 billion network modernization initiative that is the cornerstone of this effort as we work tirelessly to continue to deliver our amazing 4G services nationwide."
Back in February, T-Mobile announced plans to roll out its 4G LTE network in 2013, thanks in part to the Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum it gained from the failed AT&T merger deal as well as a $4 billion investment.
The effort has been dubbed T-Mobile's "Challenger Strategy" and is expected to reach the "vast majority" of the top 50 markets. The carrier has been installing new equipment at 37,000 cell sites and refarming spectrum in preparation for the LTE launch.
Recently, the Federal Communications Commission approved a deal whereby T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless will purchase and swap spectrum in the AWS band.
With rivals AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint rolling out their own 4G LTE networks, T-Mobile will need to do the same to compete. Those three carriers also offer the iPhone, but T-Mobile does not (unless you want 2G speeds).