T-Mobile rumored to form fiber joint venture with Lumos Networks

  • T-Mobile would invest at least $1 billion in the JV, according to the German outlet Handelsblatt

  • T-Mobile is already serving fiber in 13 U.S. markets

  • Reportedly, it would partner with Lumos Networks

The German news outlet Handelsblatt is reporting that T-Mobile is about to enter a joint venture with Lumos Networks to build fiber networks in the U.S.

T-Mobile would invest at least $1 billion in the joint venture (JV), according to Handelsbatt's sources at T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom. Initially, the JV plans to build fiber-optic connections in Virginia.

T-Mobile declined to comment on the report. Lumos Networks did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fierce Telecom.

However, we’ve been tracking T-Mobile’s efforts to build fiber in the U.S.

T-Mobile is currently selling fiber service in 13 markets, according to the “availability” tab on its T-Fiber website. None of those 13 markets is in Virginia.

However, Lumos Networks provides fiber internet to more than 300,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, with plans to reach 1 million fiber passings by 2026. The company is undertaking engineering and construction in 18 markets within those three states.

Lumos is sourcing its fiber cables from the Indian vendor STL, which recently invested $56 million to open a U.S.-based fiber optic plant in Lugoff, South Carolina.

In February, T-Mobile provided Fierce Telecom with the names of the fiber providers it’s working with in each market.

  • Tillman FiberCo — In Pinellas County and Polk County, Florida;
  • Intrepid Fiber Networks — In Pueblo and Northglenn, Colorado; and in Bloomington, St. Cloud/Sauk Rapids, and Eden Prairie, Minnesota; 
  • SiFi Networks — In Kenosha, Wisconsin; Rockford, Illinois; Farmington Area, Michigan; and in Oceanside and Palmdale, California;
  • Pilot Fiber — In New York City.

T-Mobile did not name Lumos Networks as of February 7.

To date, T-Mobile has focused on working with fiber providers who build open access networks. These networks are built by one infrastructure provider, but then can be leased to multiple service providers to compete for end customers.

Lumos’ website doesn’t mention anything about open access. However, the company has recently partnered with Orange County, North Carolina, to provide fiber internet to residents in the county, thus indicating that it is involved in municipal broadband projects.

AT&T fiber JV

If T-Mobile does form a JV with Lumos Networks, it would be the second major fiber JV. AT&T has already made waves with its Gigapower joint venture with the private equity firm BlackRock .

Gigapower is providing a wholesale open access fiber network to AT&T’s out-of-footprint territory.