Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

T-Mobile has been going crazy lately when it comes to acquisitions. Not only is the company’s buyout of Sprint, one of the formerly big four carriers, still fresh in our minds, but it has also engaged in many smaller acquisitions lately, most recently the Mint Mobile one. Now, T-Mobile is getting ready to buy out a good chunk of US Cellular.

T-Mobile has announced a $4.4 billion deal to acquire some of the assets owned by regional wireless carrier US Cellular. The deal includes US Cellular’s wireless customers, stores, and approximately 30% of its spectrum assets, while the other 70% of spectrum assets will remain independent and will be leased by T-Mobile. From what it appears like, T-Mobile will have complete control of the carrier as a result of this buyout while not owning, but still using, most towers, with the carrier entering a long-term deal with whatever’s left of US Cellular to use these more than 2,000 towers across the country.

T-Mobile aims to leverage this acquisition to expand its network coverage and bolster 5G connectivity, particularly in underserved rural areas. The company has also assured US Cellular customers that they can either retain their existing plans or switch to T-Mobile’s unlimited plans without incurring additional costs. T-Mobile’s CEO Mike Sievert says that with this acquisition, T-Mobile “can extend the superior Un-carrier value and experiences that we’re famous for to millions of US cellular customers and deliver them lower-priced, value-packed plans and better connectivity on our best-in-class nationwide 5G network. As customers from both companies will get more coverage and more capacity from our combined footprint, our competitors will be forced to keep up – and even more consumers will benefit.” That rings a bit hollow after T-Mobile just raised prices on legacy plans it promised would never increase in price.

The deal, expected to close in mid-2025, is contingent on regulatory approval. The fact that T-Mobile is not buying most towers might make the deal easier to digest for the FTC, but again, we’ll have to wait and see—even the Mint Mobile deal recently took a while to go through, so T-Mobile might be on thin ice. Early rumors suggested that US Cellular’s assets might be divided between T-Mobile and Verizon to appease regulators, but Verizon has yet to make any official announcements on the matter.

Source: T-Mobile, The Verge

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By John P.

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