T-Mobile USA weighs 4G wholesale deal with Harbinger

Dylan Bushell-Embling
05 May 2010

Deutsche Telekom is weighing a partnership with hedge fund Harbinger Capital over its ambitious plans to build a hybrid satellite-LTE network in the US.

Its subsidiary T-Mobile USA has held initial discussions over the possibility of becoming a wholesale customer on Harbinger's proposed network, sources toldFT.com.

Harbinger surprised the industry last month with a plan to build a US-wide, wholesale-only LTE network using spectrum owned by its satellite companies SkyTerra and Terrestar Networks. The network will be augmented with satellite technologies.

The issue is a pressing one for T-Mobile USA, whose sales and profit have fallen because of its inability to cash in on the mobile data boom.

It has only just upgraded its 3G network so that it covers 205 million people and boasts industry-leading speeds.

However, it will lose that advantage to pending nationwide 4G network launches from rivals Verizon, Sprint Nextel, and AT&T.

Harbinger has not yet secured funding for the project, which aims to offer services to 9 million users at launch and 145 million in all major markets by 2013.

Harbinger recently purchased 10% of handset maker Palm for an undisclosed sum.

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