T-Mobile USA scorns Verizon spectrum sale offer

NEW YORK Thu May 10, 2012 12:22pm EDT

Philipp Humm, chairman of managing board at T-Mobile Deutschland GmbH, addresses a news conference in the northern German town of Hanover March 3, 2008, ahead of the CeBIT computer fair. REUTERS/Christian Charisius

Philipp Humm, chairman of managing board at T-Mobile Deutschland GmbH, addresses a news conference in the northern German town of Hanover March 3, 2008, ahead of the CeBIT computer fair.

Credit: Reuters/Christian Charisius

NEW YORK (Reuters) - T-Mobile USA CEO Philipp Humm said his company was not interested in wireless airwaves that its biggest rival, Verizon Wireless, has offered to sell.

Verizon Wireless said last month that it would sell spectrum in the 700 megahertz frequency band if U.S. regulators approved its proposed $3.9 billion purchase of spectrum from cable operators, a deal that T-Mobile USA has loudly opposed.

Humm told reporters on a conference call on Thursday that the spectrum Verizon Wireless is proposing to sell is not good enough to help T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE).

"For us, this spectrum is not interesting," said Humm. Some of the spectrum risks interfering with TV stations that occupy nearby spectrum bands, he said.

The interference problems "will most likely take three to six years to resolve, if at all," Humm said, adding that the remainder of the spectrum being offered does not cover a wide enough area to be useful.

T-Mobile USA would like to have a chance to bid on the spectrum Verizon Wireless is looking to buy. Analysts say this spectrum would be much more suitable for T-Mobile USA than the airwaves being offered by its rival.

T-Mobile USA has been scrambling to improve its business and stem customer losses, which were exacerbated by a nine-month period in 2011 when the company was focused on seeking approval for its proposed $39 billion purchase by AT&T Inc (T.N). That deal collapsed in December.

Humm declined to comment directly on a Bloomberg report that Deutsche Telekom was in talks with MetroPCS Communications PCS.N with an aim of merging T-Mobile USA with MetroPCS.

Instead. He said Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile USA were still working to strengthen the U.S. business and "to evolve T-Mobile USA to become a self-funding platform."

The company managed to slow its customer losses in the first quarter, boosting its parent company's results, announced on Thursday.

Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L).

(Reporting By Sinead Carew; editing by John Wallace)