T-Mobile splashes the cash to further accelerate its 5G network build and expansion

T-Mobile splashes the cash to further accelerate its 5G network build and expansion
It's no longer a big secret that the second-largest wireless service provider in the US is incredibly well-positioned to challenge Verizon's industry dominance soon in terms of everything from subscriber numbers to download speeds, overall network experience, and coverage after absorbing the market's number four player and recently topping AT&T's customer base.

What might be lost on many casual watchers of the US cellular business is the colossal financial effort required to reach this position, especially at the dawn of a new mobile connectivity era. 

Sprint's acquisition alone was estimated at over $31 billion based on T-Mobile's March 31 stock price, but Magenta (or rather its Deutsche Telekom parent) presumably had to spend billions more on lobbying to get the merger done, marketing to trumpet the newly formed juggernaut, and perhaps most importantly, network integration and expansion work.

The latter efforts can't be done without the help of major tower companies and real estate investment trusts, but after a somewhat unusual recent war of words, T-Mobile and American Tower appear to have buried the hatchet, striking a new "long-term agreement designed to drive significant value for both parties."

Expect even faster 5G deployments in the near future

Like almost everything else that T-Mo has been doing for the last year or so, this huge deal is all about 5G. While the "Un-carrier's" aggressive propaganda could make you think the mobile network operator has its 5G rollout strategy all laid out for the next decade or so, the truth is there are plenty of moving parts whose advancement depends largely on the support of partners like American Tower.

According to the tower company, T-Mobile's seemingly impressive 5G deployment following the April 1 completion of the long-in-the-works Sprint merger should have been even faster and wider. Unsurprisingly, Neville Ray took issue with that criticism, but regardless of who was right and who was guilty of "disinformation", the two companies are ready to join forces again for a period of "nearly" 15 years to deliver fast and stable connectivity to a growing number of customers "well into the future."

Ironically, T-Mo's President of Technology is now hailing his employer's agreement with the real estate investment trust he personally accused of disinformation as critical for the "Un-carrier's" ability to "accelerate its aggressive 5G build." 

For his part, American Tower Corporation CEO Tom Bartlett is highlighting his company's excitement to "help T-Mobile deploy next-generation 5G service across the country quickly and efficiently by utilizing our extensive nationwide portfolio of communications sites." 

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Simply put, the deal should allow T-Mobile to further improve the footprint of both its "nationwide" low-band 5G network and the faster but slightly spottier mid-band 5G signal, leading to even better coverage and higher speeds in more places.

More full layer cake might also be in the pipeline

While the press release announcing the "nearly 15-year" agreement is annoyingly light on details, LightReading reports the lease deal is "worth" $17 billion, with Mobile World Live clarifying that number refers to the "incremental revenue" American Tower is expected to derive from the transaction in the long run.

That's definitely a lot of money, which means a lot of new towers will be set up in addition to the many more cell sites T-Mo is currently working on upgrading at a pretty remarkable pace to redeploy and integrate Sprint's hugely valuable mid-band spectrum

Due to a multitude of "synergies" spread out across the nation (read redundant Sprint cell sites), T-Mobile is also focusing in the short run on eliminating this excess infrastructure, which may have been the crux of the aforementioned argument between the carrier and its ally. 

Once that's done, we can expect T-Mobile to substantially step things up in the mmWave development field as well, offering all three 5G flavors in "parts" of more and more major cities. One can imagine that's where American Tower's "extensive portfolio of communications sites" will come in especially handy for Magenta, allowing it to rival Verizon's insane 5G speeds in addition to winning the availability war with ease.

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