Ina Fried

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T-Mobile USA Reports Huge Customer Defections, Says It Will Launch LTE in 2013

Deutsche Telekom said on Thursday that T-Mobile USA will launch high-speed LTE service sometime next year, but noted that the most recent quarter was a brutal one for its U.S. mobile business.

“For T-Mobile USA, the past year was characterized by significant challenges, particularly in the fourth quarter, following the market launch of the new Apple iPhone model by the three major national competitors in October,” T-Mobile said. In the fourth quarter alone, T-Mobile USA lost 802,000 contract customers.

Revenue dropped 3.3 percent, to $20.6 billion.

The company is the last major U.S. carrier to announce LTE plans, and it has been questioned whether it would be able to amass enough spectrum to offer the service.

T-Mobile said it will use a combination of spectrum acquired from AT&T, a further $1.4 billion in additional investment, and “refarmed frequencies” to launch LTE service. It also plans to continue its “challenger” brand strategy and more agressively pursue business customers.

T-Mobile’s future has been very much in question ever since its deal to be purchased by AT&T fell apart last year.

At January’s Consumer Electronics Show, T-Mobile had promised it was back as an independent force, but was vague on new details of what its strategy would be. At the time, T-Mobile USA CEO Philip Humm noted that there was no second AT&T deal out there to easily unload the company.

That said, Deutsche Telekom did get some hefty concessions from AT&T when the deal collapsed, including billions in cash, roaming agreements and wireless spectrum.

Humm promised more details on a revised strategy would be coming shortly.

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