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René Obermann and John Legere

It’s probably a good thing that T-Mobile USA’s newly-appointed CEO is a competitive marathon runner. After all, the Bellevue wireless carrier is in a distant fourth place, and it will need some serious closing speed to catch rivals Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.

To help close the gap, Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile’s parent, announced today that John Legere has taken over the CEO reins. A 32-year veteran of the telecommunications business, Legere is a Massachusetts native who previously served as CEO of Global Crossing.

The 54-year-old takes over the only U.S. carrier without the iPhone, and a business that remains in a state of transition after AT&T’s $39 billion bid fell apart under regulatory issues late last year.

John Legere

“T-Mobile is taking a number of significant steps to revitalize the business and I look forward to leading our team and partners to accelerate these efforts to become a force in our industry,” said Legere in a press release. Deutsche Telekom CEO René Obermann added that he looked forward to Legere turning the company into a “stronger competitor.”

Legere, who previously held executive roles at Dell and AT&T, will start at the company this Saturday. As a result of the appointment, interim CEO Jim Alling will return to the role of COO. T-Mobile lost CEO Philipp Humm to Vodafone in June.

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Legere has raised more than $1.2 million for cancer research as part of his participation in eight Boston Marathon races.

The big question is: Can he get T-Mobile back in the race?

Here’s Legere addressing the troops, noting that a new lean organizational structure will allow T-Mobile to “level the playing field with value players, and steal share from the premium players.” He added that the primary goal is to “improve the competitiveness of T-Mobile,” getting customers into stores and making sure they choose the carrier over the competition. Sounds like a new race has begun.

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