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

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.€

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