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T-Mobile Breaks Records Again With 2.4M New Connections

Iain Morris
1/9/2019
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Still defying anyone who dares to suggest its rate of customer growth will eventually slow, T-Mobile US has reported another record-beating quarter of subscriber additions, picking up another 2.4 million customers between October and December last year.

That is more than T-Mobile US Inc. has ever previously managed in a single quarter and leaves the US operator with nearly 79.7 million connections in total.

While that figure includes wholesale business, T-Mobile's retail arm continues to power ahead, adding nearly 1.5 million connections in the final quarter to finish 2018 with about 63.7 million overall. Around 1.4 million of those additions were for its more lucrative post-paid services -- its best ever fourth quarter for contract user gains -- and the operator now boasts roughly 42.5 million post-paid subscribers.

Table 1: Retail Subscriptions ('000)

Q1 2017 Q2 2017 Q3 2017 Q4 2017 Q1 2018 Q2 2018 Q3 2018 Q4 2018
T-Mobile Postpaid 35,341 36,158 36,975 38,047 39,065 40,082 41,161 42,519
-change 817 817 1,072 1,018 1,017 1,079 1,358
Prepaid 20,199 20,293 20,519 20,668 20,876 20,967 21,002 21,137
-change 94 226 149 208 91 35 135
Total 55,540 56,451 57,494 58,715 59,941 61,049 62,163 63,656
-change 911 1,043 1,221 1,226 1,108 1,114 1,493
AT&T Postpaid 76,935 77,002 77,034 77,509 77,431 77,372 76,996 –
-change 67 32 475 -78 -59 -376 –
Prepaid 13,844 14,187 15,136 15,335 15,671 16,217 16,894 –
-change 343 949 199 336 546 677 –
Total 90,779 91,189 92,170 92,844 93,102 93,589 93,890 –
-change 410 981 674 258 487 301 –
Verizon Postpaid 108,483 109,088 109,686 110,854 111,114 111,622 112,135 113,335
-change 605 598 1,168 260 508 513 1,200
Prepaid 5,430 5,448 5,588 5,403 5,068 4,832 4,736 –
-change 18 140 -185 -335 -236 -96 –
Total 113,913 114,536 115,274 116,257 116,182 116,454 116,871 –
-change 623 738 983 -75 272 417 –
Sprint Postpaid 31,576 31,518 31,686 31,942 32,119 32,187 32,296 –
-change -58 168 256 177 68 109 –
Prepaid 8,688 8,719 8,765 8,997 8,989 9,033 9,019 –
-change 31 46 232 -8 44 -14 –
Total 40,264 40,237 40,451 40,939 41,108 41,220 41,315 –
-change -27 214 488 169 112 95 –
Source: Companies.

The update comes a day after Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) claimed to have signed up another 1.2 million post-paid subscribers in the final quarter of 2018, giving it 113.3 million altogether.

Although Verizon's post-paid business dwarfs T-Mobile's, the smaller operator is growing its phone business more quickly: About 1 million of T-Mobile's new post-paid connections were phone users (rather than those using tablets or other devices), while Verizon managed only 650,000 phone additions. It has yet to provide details of prepaid or wholesale growth.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) have yet to publish any customer numbers for the last three months of 2018. AT&T's mobile business had 93.9 million connections at the end of September, while Sprint had 41.3 million.

"The T-Mobile team delivered our best customer results ever in Q4 2018 and we did it in a competitive climate while working hard to complete our merger with Sprint," said CEO John Legere in a company statement. "That's 23 quarters in a row where more than 1 million customers have chosen T-Mobile."

The potential merger with Sprint and this year's rollout of 5G represent the biggest uncertainties for T-Mobile this year as it looks to maintain growth. (See Verizon, AT&T Spar Over 5G Service Names, Marketing.)


Want to know more about 5G? Check out our dedicated 5G content channel here on
Light Reading.


Yet to secure the full approval of US regulatory authorities, the Sprint deal will hitch T-Mobile to a network operator that has barely grown in recent quarters, compared with its bigger rivals. Merging two very different businesses could turn out to be a huge distraction from the usual sales and marketing activities for T-Mobile.

The introduction of 5G technology could also change the market dynamics. AT&T and Verizon are relying on high spectrum bands to support new 5G services, while T-Mobile plans to make use of lower frequencies.

Higher frequencies usually promise faster connections but tend to offer relatively poor coverage in comparison with low spectrum bands. Legere has already suggested that Verizon will struggle to blanket parts of the US with its 5G service. The question is whether his own company's 5G network can match AT&T and Verizon on connection speeds. (See T-Mobile US Lags Rivals in 5G, Finds T-Mobile Survey.)

— Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading

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