T-Mobile, Verizon want to carve up UScellular – WSJ report

According to The Wall Street Journal, T-Mobile is looking to buy $2 billion worth of UScellular in a deal that could be announced this month. Verizon, meanwhile, is considering a deal for some of the rest.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies

May 9, 2024

2 Min Read
 T Mobile, 732 Broadway, New York, NY. exterior storefront of a cellphone store in the NoHo neighborhood of Manhattan.
(Source: Robert K. Chin - Storefronts/Alamy Stock Photo)

According to a new Wall Street Journal report, T-Mobile is in the final stages of a $2 billion purchase of a chunk of UScellular. Meanwhile, Verizon is eyeing a purchase of some of the remaining parts of UScellular, though that transaction is still in its early stages.

Citing unnamed sources familiar with the deals, the publication noted that neither agreement had been finalized. The report indicated the T-Mobile portion of the deal could be announced later this month.

According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), splitting UScellular between T-Mobile and Verizon could help appease regulators who are uneasy with ongoing consolidation in the US wireless industry.

Indeed, a purchase of part of UScellular by T-Mobile would be that operator's latest financial adventure in recent weeks. T-Mobile just this month closed on its $1.3 billion purchase of Mint Mobile's estimated 3 million customers. The operator also announced a joint venture with EQT for fiber operator Lumos.

Further, splitting UScellular and its roughly 5 million mobile customers between T-Mobile and Verizon would also push AT&T farther into third place in the US wireless industry. Verizon remains the nation's biggest US mobile provider based on number of customers, while T-Mobile entered the second spot following its acquisition of Sprint. UScellular is one of the few large regional wireless network operators left.

No surprise

A sale of UScellular wouldn't come as a surprise. As WSJ noted, the Carlson family controls TDS, which owns 80% of UScellular. Following investor complaints, TDS put UScellular up for sale last year.

UScellular also owns around 4,000 cell towers, but those reportedly won't be included in the Verizon or T-Mobile deals.

UScellular's shares popped following publication of the WSJ article to almost $50 per share. The company's market cap is $3 billion.

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

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