T-Mobile, a Wireless Provider, May Be Placing a Bigger Bet on Fiber




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T-Mobile may be taking a page out of its telecom rivals Verizon and AT&T and moving in fiber optics in a bigger way.

The wireless carrier, which distinguishes itself from its competitors by focusing almost entirely on wireless — home and mobile — is in discussions with the fiber business of Tillman Global Holdings to build out a landline infrastructure, according to Bloomberg, who cited anonymous sources. The report says the deal would be structured so that T-Mobile would be the primary user of a fiber-optic network built by joint venture Tillman FiberCo and private equity firm Northleaf Capital partners.

A deal would mark T-Mobile’s biggest move into providing fiber-based internet service. The carrier in April launched a limited fiber-optic service in select markets in New York and Colorado, and has long sought partners to help with its fiber ambitions. Its interest in this area is an acknowledgement that while its 5G home service has grown increasingly popular, there’s also a lot of opportunity in faster fiber speeds.

A spokesman for T-Mobile didn’t comment on Tillman specifically, but noted that the company has long been interested in fiber, and has used select markets to learn more about the business.

“We’re continuing those pilots to gain more insights,” he said.

Thanks to the popularity of its 5G home internet service, T-Mobile is already the market leader in broadband, regularly topping its telecom and cable providers. Fiber would allow the company to compete with a faster service against the likes of not only AT&T and Verizon, but cable companies like Comcast and Charter.

T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert hinted as much during an investor conference earlier this month, noting that he doesn’t see 5G home internet replacing fiber, and noting the limitations with spectrum capacity and reach in certain areas.

At that same conference, AT&T CEO John Stankey talked about how fiber is ultimately how people will be connected, and Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg talked about the economic advantages of owning that fiber pipe, allowing you to deliver any kind of service on top of it.

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