T-Mobile Jumps on the Fiber Bandwagon

Joining Verizon Fios and AT&T Fiber, T-Mobile (NASDAQ: TMUS) has become the latest nationwide wireless carrier to make a major commitment to the fiber space. Yesterday, T-Mobile announced that it has entered into a joint venture with EQT, a global investment firm, to purchase Lumos, whose fiber network currently crosses Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

At closing, T-Mobile is expected to invest $950 million in the joint venture to acquire a 50 percent equity stake and all existing fiber customers. Lumos currently reaches 320,000 households over 7,500 route miles with fiber optic internet and home WiFi service in the Mid-Atlantic. 

The next capital contribution by T-Mobile is anticipated to occur between 2027 and 2028 with an additional commitment of approximately $500 million. Lumos expects these combined investments, totalling $1.45 billion, to allow it to reach 3.5 million homes passed by the end of 2028. 

T-Mobile entered into a joint venture with EQT’s Infrastructure VI fund to acquire the Lumos fiber-to-the-home platform from EQT’s predecessor fund, EQT Infrastructure III. After the transaction closes, Lumos will transition to a wholesale model with T-Mobile as the anchor tenant, owning customer relationships and leveraging its brand to attract new subscribers. The joint venture will focus on market identification and selection, network engineering and design, network deployment, and customer installation.

The Lumos acquisition adds to T-Mobile’s other fixed internet ventures to the home. T-Mobile provides 5G Internet, a fixed wireless internet service that serves 5 million customers, and T-Mobile Fiber that resells local fiber service in 16 states. “Those launches have shown consumer demand for broadband that T-Mobile cannot meet through its fallow capacity fixed wireless product alone, and many customers want the speed and reliability that only fiber can provide,” said Mike Sievert, CEO of T-Mobile. 

EQT has funded Lumos over the past six years, scaling the company and rolling out fiber to underserved markets. “We look forward to continuing to leverage EQT’s considerable digital infrastructure and fiber expertise to support the significant fiber buildout ambitions of T-Mobile and the Joint Venture,” said Jan Vesely, Partner within EQT’s Infrastructure Advisory Team.

Brian Stading, CEO of Lumos, said, “With the support of our private equity partner, EQT, and leveraging the strength of the T-Mobile brand and unrivaled customer experience, Lumos is set to expedite our network expansion. This joint venture will amplify our ability to change lives through the transformative power of fiber optic internet.”

By J. Sharpe Smith, Inside Towers Technology Editor

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