T-Mobile and Verizon to buy US Cellular, reports say 


The news follows T-Mobile’s acquisition of Mint Mobile just last month 

US mobile operators T-Mobile and Verizon are in discussions to separately buy parts of smaller rival US Cellular, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. 

US Cellular serves over 4 million customers, predominately in rural areas. The company was put up for sale last year by its owners, TDS, in response to years of pressure from shareholders. 

According to the report, T-Mobile is seeking to purchase over $2 billion in assets, which include “some operations and wireless spectrum licenses.” 

This deal is close to being finalised and could be announced later this month, said people familiar with the matter.  

The deal with Verizon is less defined, with these discussions still in the early stages.  

Both Verizon and T-Mobile are seeking to acquire the spectrum from US Cellular as well as assets and customer base. 

US Cellular also has 4,000 mobile towers, though these are reportedly not part of either deal. 

The Wall Street Journal suggests part of the reason for the piecemeal sale is to stay under the radar of the US competition authorities. T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint in 2020 faced almost two years of scrutiny from federal regulators, as well as a lawsuit over potential harm to consumers. Critics essentially argued that the merger would reduce competition and create a player in the market whose market share was too dominant, which could easily be the case here should either Verizon or T-Mobile acquire the entirety of US Cellular. 

Indeed, T-Mobile has already grown via M&A activity this year. Just last month, T-Mobile finalised the acquisition to buy Ka’ena Corp, the owner of Mint Mobile, for up to $1.35 billion. The deal has been approved by the Federal Communications Commission after being first reported in January last year. 

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