NEW ORLEANS--T-Mobile USA isn't looking at Verizon Wireless's proposed spectrum auction as the answer for its needs.
"For us, this spectrum is not interesting," T-Mobile CEO Philipp Humm said during a conference call with reporters today.
With T-Mobile working toward an upgrade of its existing network as well as a move to 4G LTE, the carrier is in need of spectrum, which provides wireless capacity and allows it to deliver mobile services.
T-Mobile's dilemma is shared by all of the carriers, and has been a common theme at this year's CTIA Wireless show. Verizon Wireless, also looking for spectrum, has struck an agreement to acquire the spectrum owned by several cable providers in exchange for cash and a cross-selling agreement.
It's a deal that several parties, including T-Mobile, oppose. Some believe Verizon is stockpiling spectrum, something it denies, while others fear the notion that one carrier controls too much of the available spectrum.
To alleviate the concerns, Verizon has offered to auction off two unused blocks of spectrum in the 700-megahertz band.
Humm, however, said the band wasn't particularly valuable. It is incomplete from a geographic standpoint, he noted, with carriers often looking for a complete nationwide swath of spectrum. Much of the spectrum is in the A block, which Humm said could go unused as it deals with potential interference issues with broadcast television.
But with the cable deal, Verizon could end up with a lot of valuable spectrum, some of which could be divested, Humm said. T-Mobile later reiterated its position that the Federal Communications Commission should block the deal.
T-Mobile earlier today reported its first-quarter results, showing a return to customer growth amid strength in its prepaid and wholesale business. The carrier, however, continues to lose contract subscribers, which is its core profit and revenue-generator.
Humm declined to comment on when exactly the carrier would get back to consistent subscriber growth on the postpaid end, but noted that it was in the second phase of a turnaround plan which calls for growth next year and beyond.
He also remained mum on speculation that T-Mobile's parent, Deutsche Telekom, was considering the acquisition of MetroPCS. He wouldn't comment on any potential deal.
Alongside the turnaround plan is a revamping of its marketing strategy. At the wireless CEO roundtable discussion at CTIA, Humm unveiled a new commercial taking a direct shot at the speed of the AT&T iPhone 4S -- a move that was a bit awkward because AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega went on stage moments after the ad finished playing.
But the reference to AT&T, something T-Mobile wasn't afraid of doing last year prior to the merger agreement with AT&T, signals a return to a more aggressive position.
"We're changing the brand from affordability to affordability and cutting edge," Humm said.