T-Mobile CEO Philipp Humm Resigns, Joining Deutsche Telekom Rival

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2012-06-27 Print this article Print

Philipp Humm, the man Deutsche Telekom sent to the U.S. to straighten out T-Mobile, has abruptly resigned. T-Mobile says Humm is reuniting with his family in Europe. The Journal says he's joined a rival carrier.

T-Mobile CEO Philipp Humm has resigned, Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile€™s parent company, announced June 27. With Humm€™s abrupt-seeming departure, T-Mobile Chief Operating Officer Jim Alling has been named as a temporary replacement, while the search for a permanent replacement is underway.

€œHumm is going to pursue a career outside of Deutsche Telekom so as to reunite with his family, which stayed back in Europe,€ T-Mobile said in the statement.

The Wall Street Journal immediately after reported that Humm had stepped down €œto take a job with an unnamed competitor in Europe.€

The Journal continued, €œIn a letter to T-Mobile USA staff released Wednesday [Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Obermann] said Mr. Humm informed the company in April that he intended to leave at the end of September so he could return to his family in Europe. Mr. Humm€™s exit was sped up after he informed Mr. Obermann €˜a few days ago€™ that he would be joining a competitor of Deutsche Telekom.€

Deutsche Telekom would not name the competitor, though Obermann added in his letter than he€™d spoken with €œa number of promising candidates.€   

The job description, one imagines, includes a call for patience, ambition and vision.

"T-Mobile has a lot of work to do€”being a distant four in a three-company race," Gartner analyst Phillip Redman told eWEEK. "Last year was difficult year for them ... it is in better shape today [but] it is struggling to define itself, behind on LTE [Long-Term Evolution] launches and needs to improve its metrics. A big task for anyone."

A year ago, Humm testified before federal regulators€”as part as AT&T€™s bid to purchase the smaller carrier€”that T-Mobile was in rather dire straits, unable to afford a network upgrade to 4G, which was necessary, he explained, to compete in the mobile market. Ultimately, AT&T backed away from the deal, and as part of its arrangement with T-Mobile, compensated it for its trouble with roughly $4 billion and a nice amount of wireless spectrum.

On Feb. 23, Humm announced that T-Mobile was kicking off a $4 billion €œnetwork modernization€ strategy that included a 4G LTE deployment and improvements to voice and data coverage.

By May, Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks were signed on to get things moving, and in a T-Mobile blog post, CTO Neville Ray shared that a nice €œside benefit€ of its 4G network efforts would be that the network will be compatible €œwith a broader range of devices, including the iPhone.€

The Apple iPhone 5, which analysts predict will arrive in October, is expected to be LTE-enabled.

Most recently, Humm has been busy hosting Rick Kaplan, head of the FCC€™s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, at T-Mobile headquarters, to discuss Verizon€™s controversial agreements with several cable companies. He€™s also been negotiating with Verizon to purchase and swap spectrum€”some of which is spectrum Verizon will come into as part of the cable deal, and so is awaiting the approval of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

It€™s a tricky time for Humm to hand over the reins but, with more money and spectrum on its side than a year ago, likely also a more alluring arrangement for a replacement.

Obermann, in his statement, added that under Humm€™s leadership €œthe cost situation at T-Mobile USA has vastly improved and he led the company during a difficult phase regarding the planned merger with AT&T.€

As for Humm€™s successor, Obermann added, €œNow we need somebody who can convert initiatives into market successes.€

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.

Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel