Deutsche Telekom AG is considering an initial public offering or spinoff of its U.S. wireless service T-Mobile USA, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the Journal said Deutsche Telekom recently had talks with potential underwriters, including Deutsche Bank AG and expects to make a decision in the coming months.

The German telecommunications company wants to placate shareholders unhappy with its performance, according to the online report from the Journal, which said an IPO could help fund T-Mobile USA's network build-out.

T-Mobile USA is a distant fourth in the U.S. mobile market, behind Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc and Sprint Nextel Corp . Verizon Wireless is a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc .

Because T-Mobile USA has been losing customers, to larger as well as smaller rivals, there was a rash of speculation last year about its future, with possibilities ranging from a merger with Sprint, Leap Wireless International Inc or MetroPCS Communications Inc
, to a network partnership with Clearwire Corp .

Representatives of Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile USA declined to comment.

Based on estimated earnings before interest taxes depreciations and amortization of $6 billion, T-Mobile USA would have an equity value around $20 billion and could take on $12 billion in debt and maintain an investment-grade rating, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

It said the most likely scenario, if Deutsche Telekom moves forward, is to sell about a 20 percent stake and retain the rest.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Andre Grenon)