By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK, Nov 19 (Reuters) - T-Mobile US is lookingto buy wireless airwaves from larger rival Verizon Wireless tobolster its mobile network capacity for data services, a sourcefamiliar with the matter said on Tuesday.
While T-Mobile has approached Verizon about buying thespectrum, the process is still in the early stages, according tothe source, who asked not to be named. The source was notauthorized to discuss the matter.
T-Mobile, the No. 4 U.S. mobile service provider, might haveto pay as much as $3 billion for the airwaves, which are notbeing used by Verizon, according to one analyst estimate. Theairwaves would give T-Mobile additional network capacity to helpit catch up with its bigger rivals in delivering high-speedwireless services.
T-Mobile declined to comment on Tuesday. Representatives forVerizon Wireless, which is owned by Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc, were not immediatelyavailable for comment.
T-Mobile, which is majority owned by Deutsche Telekom, had said on Nov. 12, in its announcement of anequity offering to raise money for spectrum deals, that it wasconsidering buying airwaves from a private party but did notname the potential seller.
Verizon Communications, the majority owner of VerizonWireless, had recently indicated that it could consider sellingso-called A Block airwaves in the 700 megahertz frequency bandas it is not using these airwaves.
The company had already tried to sell the same spectrum lastyear but Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said at aninvestor conference last week that it did not get a high enoughoffer. Shammo said the company would not conduct a "fire sale"and that if it did not reach a deal that made sense, VerizonWireless would instead use the airwaves.
T-Mobile raised $1.8 billion through a sale of its commonstock last week and offered $2 billion in bonds on Nov. 18 withthe expected aim of funding future spectrum purchases.
The company has said that it would like to increase itsspectrum holdings to improve its high-speed wireless services.
Several analysts have speculated that the A Block spectrumis the asset that would make the most sense for T-Mobile to buy.
Verizon has agreed to buy Vodafone's 45 percent stake intheir Verizon Wireless venture for $130 billion in a deal thatis expected to close in early 2014.
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