T-Mobile is the wireless telecoms arm of German giant Deutsche Telekom. It established a broad international presence from 1999 onwards, acquiring several other significant wireless businesses, including One2One in the UK and Voicestream and PowerTel in the US. Continuing growth had made T-Mobile the biggest revenue centre within Deutsche Telekom by the end of 2005. More recently though it has begun to reduce its exposure in further flung countries - where it had remained one of the smaller players - in order to concentrate on more profitable continental European markets closer to home. The first such step was an agreement to merge T-Mobile's operations in the UK with those of rival Orange to create EE, now the local market leader by customers. Still more dramatic was a plan to exit the US in 2011, with the outright sale of the local T-Mobile to AT&T. However that deal was blocked by the US Justice Department and FCC on competition grounds. Instead T-Mobile USA merged in 2013 with smaller rival MetroPCS, creating a locally quoted business now only part-owned by Deutsche Telekom. It has been one of the US wireless industry's strongest performers overtaking Sprint to become the local #3 by customers, though it still trails leaders AT&T and Verizon. Merger talks have continued on and off with Sprint since 2013 to create a stronger competitor to the two US leaders. These finally reached fruition in 2018 with an agreement for T-Mobile to acquire Sprint for around $26bn in stock. However, that arrangement faces a rough ride from regulators.
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Adbrands Weekly Update 3rd May 2018: The proposed combination of mobile providers T-Mobile USA and Sprint is hardly a surprise. The two have been engaged in on-again off-again talks for the past five years in an attempt to build a stronger competitor to AT&T and Verizon, and rumours began to emerge of renewed discussions early last month. In the past, though, those negotiations have usually fizzled out as a result of disagreements over respective valuations of each business or the likelihood of regulatory opposition. The changing marketplace, primarily the need of both companies to invest in fast-emerging 5G technology to stay competitive, has added greater urgency to the situation. Under the proposed arrangement, T-Mobile USA will acquire Sprint for around $26bn in stock. The combined business will retain the T-Mobile USA name and will continue to be led by its admired CEO John Legere. T-Mobile's controlling shareholder Deutsche Telekom will end up with a 42% stake in the business, while Sprint's parent, the Japanese company Softbank, will have 27%. The remaining shares would be publicly held. The merged entity would manage around 100m direct retail customers (excluding MVNO or wholesale users), putting into second place between Verizon (currently 116m) and AT&T (93m). But - and it's a big but - the deal must still run the gauntlet of the regulators. In the past, the FCC has repeatedly voiced its support for four separate mobile providers in the US. However, investments by cable and technology companies in emerging 5G infrastructure promise to expand the number of potential suppliers significantly in coming years. Comcast is one such big new entrant in the market. "This isn't a case of going from 4 to 3 wireless companies," said T-Mobile's Legere this weekend. "There are now at least 7 or 8 big competitors in this converging market."
Adbrands Weekly Update 14th Dec 2017: T-Mobile USA is jumping into streaming media with the acquisition of niche provider Layer3, which currently offers a range of cable channels from Fox, Comcast and Disney in selected US cities. T-Mobile aims to expand the service's footprint nationally to its existing mobile and broadband subscribers as well as new customers. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. T-Mobile indicated it would fund the service with a mix of subscriber fees and advertising sales.
Adbrands Weekly Update 2nd Nov 2017: After months of negotiation, merger talks between US mobile carriers Sprint and T-Mobile USA were abandoned yet again, for the second time in three years. Sprint's controlling shareholder, Japanese telecoms investor Softbank, pulled the plug over fears that it would have to give up too much control to T-Mobile's parent company Deutsche Telekom. Sprint's market value has fallen to $25bn, less than half T-Mobile USA. Instead, both companies will continue to go it alone in the shadow of twin giants AT&T and Verizon. T-Mobile is better positioned to thrive than its beleaguered competitor, which continues to lose postpaid subscribers and bleed red ink on its bottom line. Most analysts feel that Sprint will have to accept some form of deal sooner rather than later, if not with T-Mobile, then with a cable company.
Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Jun 2016: T-Mobile USA launched another typically bold marketing stunt this week, offering all its 12m pay-monthly subscribers one free stock unit - currently worth around $43 - with an option to receive up to another 100 shares a year if they can persuade their friends to sign up as well. Subscribers not interested in owning a piece of the company can claim free pizza, a frozen dessert from Wendy's and a movie rental. CEO John Legere told his Twitter followers, "The carriers want to screw you. We want to take you to dinner and a movie. But I'm not done... I'm turning T-Mobile customers into T-Mobile owners."
Adbrands Weekly Update 4th June 2015: The Wall Street Journal breaks the news this morning that US satellite broadcaster Dish Network is in advanced talks to merge with T-Mobile USA, the part-public subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. Such a deal could at last offer Telekom the prospect of a clean exit from the American market. For Dish too it would offer a brighter future, as well as a solid response to rival DirecTV's purchase by AT&T. Dish chairman Charlie Ergen has been seeking a path into the mobile sector for years. He owns substantial amounts of wireless spectrum but nothing at present to use it for. Under the structure currently being discussed, Ergen would remain chairman of the combined entity, with T-Mobile's John Legere as CEO. Financially, it would be a merger of equals, more or less, with Dish currently valued at $33bn and T-Mobile USA at $31bn. [Later note: No deal materialised].
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