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T-Mobile Opening Retail Stores At A Furious Clip

Trying to keep up with rapidly expanding LTE coverage 4/27/2016 05:30:00 PM Eastern

T-Mobile, the country’s fastest-growing mobile carrier, will open about 1,400 more retail stores this year to keep pace with its expanding network footprint.

On an earnings call that followed the release of its first-quarter results, president/CEO John Legere noted that the Magenta Carrier will add approximately 1,000 MetroPCS prepaid stores to its current roster of 7,500 dedicated locations, and chief operating officer Michael Sievert said that 400 T-Mobile showrooms will join the estimated 2,000-store flagship chain, with dozens already built this quarter.

Sievert said the brick-and-mortar buildout should extend the carrier’s “marketing footprint” to upwards of 270 million consumers by the middle of next year, up from the current 230 million who live within 10 miles of its stores.

T-Mobile’s storefront presence lags its 4G LTE network coverage, which now encompasses 308 million Americans thanks to the company’s 700 MHz Band 12 spectrum acquisitions (largely from Verizon), over which it is aggressively deploying its “Extended Range LTE” service. The low-frequency spectrum, which travels well through buildings and over long distances, is improving coverage in cities and rural areas, and is now available to about 194 million people across more than 340 markets with Band 12-capable phones.

The expansions, combined with Legere’s unconventional marketing and industry-altering customer benefits — like no-contract plans, unused data rollover, no overage charges, and unlimited high-speed access to over 100 streaming music and video services — has led to eye-popping customer growth and dramatically improved earnings for the No. 3 carrier.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere, center, and his senior management team brought the Magenta Carrier back in the black in Q1.

Specifically, net additions for the first quarter, ended March 31, hit 2.2 million for a total of 65.5 million customers, representing the 12th consecutive quarter of 1 million-plus growth. Of that increase, more than 1 million customers were branded postpaid net additions, representing the seventh consecutive quarter of 1 million-plus postpaid growth, the carrier said.

The gains translated into improved financial results that far exceeded analyst projections, with total revenue up 10.6 percent to $8.6 billion, and reported net income of $479 million, compared to a year-ago loss of $63 million.

“Our model is working and the business momentum is accelerating across the board,” Legere said in a statement. “I can’t think of a better way to start off 2016 than by capturing all of the industry’s postpaid phone growth — again!”

He later added in a tweet: “Basically, what happens when you listen to your customers and solve their pain points :).”

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