Bellevue, Wash. – T-Mobile entered into a lease-leaseback deal with a cellular tower operator to strengthen its finances and help pay for network improvements and the roll out 4G LTE service, the company announced.
Under the $2.4 billion deal, Crown Castle gets the sole right to use and lease out 6,400 T-Mobile towers for about 28 years. Crown Castle will also purchase another 800 towers. T-Mobile will continue to house its network equipment in the 6,400 towers leased out to Crown Castle and “lease back the required capacity from Crown Castle,” the company said. Previously unused facilities will be available for lease by third parties.
The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2012.
T-Mobile will use the $2.4 billion to reduce its debt burden, the company said.
With the deal, T-Mobile USA said it “can now realize [its] planned initiatives,” the key part of which is $4 billion in expenditures to modernize 37,000 cell sites, introduce 4G/HSPA+ services in the 1,900MHz band, and launch 4G LTE service in 2013.
T-Mobile currently uses about 51,000 cell sites to offer wireless service, and it said the “vast majority” are leased from third parties. Tower leasing is standard practice in the U.S. because of its cost-effectiveness, T-Mobile said. Tower operators are able to “install a larger number of antennae of different mobile communications operators on the masts per site than is the case at the own sites of telecommunications companies,” the carrier explained.