T-Mobile agrees to buy UScellular wireless operations in $4.4bn deal 


The announcement confirms rumours last month that suggested Verizon was also in separate talks to purchase some of UScellular’s assets  

T-Mobile has announced an agreement to acquire the majority of UScellular’s wireless operations, including its customers, retail stores, and certain spectrum assets.  

T-Mobile will pay a total of $4.4 billion for UScellular’s assets through a combination of cash and the assumption of $2 billion of debt.  

As part of the deal, T-Mobile will acquire roughly 30% of UScellular’s spectrum, the specifics of which were not revealed. UScellular, meanwhile, will keep the remaining 70% of its spectrum assets, as well as its 4,400 mobile towers.  

T-Mobile will enter a long-term agreement to lease space on “at least” 2,600 of these towers, UScellular said in its press release. 

Once the deal is finalised, UScellular’s 4 million (predominantly rural) customers will gain full access to T-Mobile’s nationwide 5G network. The companies say it “will provide more competitive choices for UScellular customers, as they will benefit from T-Mobile’s greater resources and ability to provide lower prices, more robust plans, and a better network experience”. Customers will also have the option to switch to T-Mobile’s plans, which may offer cost savings and additional benefits. 

The announcement of the deal follows UScellular undergoing a strategic review in August 2023, which concluded that it was unable to continue funding its wireless operation independently.  

“In the face of rising competition and increasing capital intensity required to keep pace with the latest technologies, and following our careful and deliberate strategic review, we are confident that continuing to deliver on our mission requires a level of scale and investment that is best achieved by integrating our wireless operations with those of T-Mobile.” said said LeRoy T. Carlson, Jr., Chair of the Board of Directors of UScellular. 

“As customers from both companies will get more coverage and more capacity from our combined footprint, our competitors will be forced to keep up – and even more consumers will benefit,” said T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert in T-Mobile’s press release. 

“The Un-carrier is all about shaking up wireless for the good of consumers and this deal is another way for us to continue doing even more of that,” he continued. 

T-Mobile expects an annual yield of around $1 billion after the integration from increased efficiencies, but estimates that this will require a single upfront investment of between $2.2–2.6 billion. 

The transaction is expected to close in mid-2025, once approved by regulators. 

Earlier this month, a Wall Street Journal report suggested that T-Mobile and Verizon were both in separate talks to buy parts of UScellular, likely to avoid attracting the level of regulatory attention brought on by a full merger. The report, which suggested that T-Mobile’s stake in UScellular would be worth $2 billion, correctly confirmed that a deal would be announced this month.  

A deal with Verizon has not been mentioned by UScellular. 

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