T-Mobile USA in $2.4B Towers Deal

Crown Castle International Corp. (NYSE: CCI) is to take control of about 7,200 T-Mobile US Inc. towers in a deal valued at US$2.4 billion.

Crown Castle will gain the exclusive right to lease and operate the towers for a number of years (the average is 28 years) after which it will have the right to purchase the towers outright for an additional total fee of $2.4 billion. Those purchase options will come into effect between 2025 and 2048.

T-Mobile USA, which has just appointed a new CEO, says it will use the cash to fund its Challenger strategy, which is focused on a network upgrade to LTE. The operator plans to launch its LTE services in 2013. (See T-Mobile's New CEO to Lead Challenger Strategy, Tracking T-Mobile's 4G Advance, T-Mobile Hunts for Voice-Over-LTE Talent, T-Mobile CTO: Our 4G Stands Up to LTE Rivals and NSN, Ericsson Win T-Mobile's LTE Business.)

Crown Castle says the deal reinforces its position as the largest independent provider of wireless tower infrastructure in the U.S. and that the T-Mobile USA masts, of which 83 percent are in the top 100 urban areas, will boost its asset base in key markets.

The move marks a significant step for T-Mobile USA, which has been struggling to shake off the collapse of its merger deal with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) (See T-Mobile Looks Ahead as It Bleeds Customers and T-Mobile Breakup Causes $6.7B Q4 Loss for AT&T .)

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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