T-Mobile and global investment firm EQT have signed a deal to create a fiber broadband joint venture that will include the fiber assets of broadband provider Lumos. Lumos, which is already owned by EQT, will transition to a wholesale-only model, with T-Mobile serving as an anchor tenant.

T-Mobile will acquire Lumos retail customers, who are in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The Un-carrier will invest approximately $950 million in the joint venture to acquire a 50% equity stake. The funding will be used by Lumos for future fiber builds. T-Mobile also expects to invest approximately $500 million more in the JV between 2027 and 2028.

The JV’s goal is for Lumos fiber to be available to 3.5 million homes by the end of 2028. The deal is expected to close in late 2024 or early 2025.

The T-Mobile Lumos EQT Deal

The deal is the latest and biggest example of T-Mobile’s fiber ambitions. Although traditionally a wireless operator, the company has begun offering fiber broadband and currently serves 13 markets. The company offers speeds between 500 Mbps and 2 Gbps at prices starting at $55 and $110 per month, respectively.

The company’s interest in fiber may have sprung from the success it has had with its T-Mobile Home Internet fixed wireless service. That service shares T-Mobile’s mobile infrastructure and is only available in areas where T-Mobile has extra capacity on that infrastructure.

Gaining fiber infrastructure would give the company a glide path to keeping its fixed service customers in case mobile network capacity becomes constrained. It’s also a good bet that bandwidth demand will continue to increase, and gaining fiber assets would future proof the company on that front.

A fiber land grab is well underway as stakeholders realize that the first company to deploy fiber in a market has a strong first-mover advantage. And the joint venture approach enables a company to establish a broader footprint than it would have if it were to go it alone.

“As the demand for reliable, low-latency connectivity rapidly increases, this deal is a scalable strategy for T-Mobile to take a significant step forward in expanding on our broadband success and continue shaking up competition in this space to bring even more value and choice to consumers,” said Mike Sievert, CEO of T-Mobile, in a prepared statement.

“Together with EQT and Lumos, T-Mobile is building on our position as the fastest growing broadband provider in the country in a value-accretive way that complements our sustained growth leadership in wireless. Customers – homes and businesses – who get the fast, affordable, and reliable internet they need will be the real winners.”

T-Mobile’s joint venture approach is quite similar to the Gigapower JV that AT&T established with investment firm Black Rock. That deal is also a 50/50 one and it also calls for AT&T to be the anchor tenant on a wholesale fiber network.

EQT is no stranger to telecom and broadband investing. In addition to Lumos, the company has invested in Zayo and other broadband providers.

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