updated 11:40 am EST, Fri November 20, 2009
T-Mobile deal may be with MetroPCS, others
T-Mobile's US branch may land a deal with another carrier to grow its network much more rapidly, a rumor maintained on Friday. Sources for the German paper Handelsblatt claimed that Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's parent, is in the "early stages" of looking for a partner that would help it build out the network through a cash infusion. The top candidates so far include budget carrier MetroPCS, WiMAX-based Clearwire and even AT&T, any of whom could get a small stake in T-Mobile in return for the investment.
The same sources added that T-Mobile had ruled out buying Sprint. A clarification from Reuters sources explained that there was no pressure to take action and consequently nothing likely to happen in the short term. Deutsche Telekom is reportedly keeping its options open.
Of the potential candidates, MetroPCS shares the most in common with T-Mobile as it also uses the 1,700MHz band for some of its service, albeit using a different standard. T-Mobile has no plans to use WiMAX and risks running afoul of antitrust laws by collaborating with AT&T, the only other major GSM carrier in the country.
T-Mobile has faced trouble in more than one of its key countries. Its UK division was in difficult financial straits that pushed it to merge with Orange. In the US, it's in fourth place, only somewhat behind Sprint but well behind AT&T and Verizon.
Company chief Hamid Akhavan has claimed that some of the deficit is attributable to AT&T's exclusive for the iPhone luring away some customers.