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Tablets, Prepaid, Competition Shake Up Q2

Tablets, new pricing plans and the "uncarrier" brought about some interesting subscriber dynamics in the US wireless market in the second quarter.

During the quarter, we saw Verizon Wireless make up for its slip in smartphone additions with huge tablet gains. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), on the other hand, trailed Verizon in total postpaid net adds, but far outdid Big Red in the still-important smartphone category, thanks in part to its Next device financing plans. Both lost customers on the prepaid front, with AT&T particularly feeling the burn as it has yet to move Cricket customers to its network and lost some while trying to do so. (See AT&T Plans a Prepaid Cricket Attack.)


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Meanwhile, the big two's smaller competitors and merger-maybes, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US Inc. , fared quite differently in the quarter. Sprint's customer exodus continued (the figures here refer to Sprint's fiscal first quarter, which ended June 30), albeit at a slower rate than before, and it appeared most of them were going to T-Mobile, which managed to pull in 1.5 million new customers in the quarter. (See Slim Postpaid Pickings for Sprint, T-Mobile .)

To break it down, the chart below details the subscriber wins and losses for the quarter, including the operator's non-human connections.

Table 1: US Tier 1 Wireless Operators Q2

Total Net Customer Adds Postpaid Growth Prepaid Growth Smartphones Added Tablets Added Connected Devices Total Customers
AT&T 634,000 1.03 million 405,000 (loss) 576,000 360,000 175,000 98.6 million
Verizon Wireless 1.4 million 304,000 14,000 (loss) 304,000 1.15 million Not reported 104.6 million
Sprint (fiscal Q1) 220,000 (loss) 181,000 (loss) 542,000 (loss) 5 million Not reported 503,000 (wholesale and affiliate customers) 53 million
T-Mobile 1.5 million 908,000 102,000 6.2 million 329,000 (mobile broadband, mostly tablets) Not reported 50 million

Source: Operators' earnings reports

For more, check out Light Reading's Q2 earnings coverage:

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

nasimson 8/5/2014 | 10:55:41 PM
some real competition Thanks Sarah for the summary. Appears that barring some overlapped customers if the Sprint had not dropped its bid for T-Mobile, it would have made very close to Verizon giving some real competition to both AT&T and Verizon.

For too long now, the US market is divided into the BIG two and the small two - effectively remaining a duopoly.
sarahthomas1011 8/5/2014 | 9:11:26 AM
operator priorities The subscriber numbers and how they affect earnings is really interesting because it shows what different priorities the operators have -- tablets for Verizon, LTE smartphones for AT&T, pure gains (even at the expense of financials) for T-Mobile, and just customer retention for Sprint. Connected devices also seemed to get a little less love this quarter, but they are nonetheless important for all four.
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