T-Mobile Beats Rivals In Branded Net Adds, But Momentum Slows

Despite gains, carriers swings to net loss in Q1
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Bellevue, Wash. — T-Mobile continued to post net new branded-subscriber gains of more than 1 million in the first quarter, but the number fell 33 percent to 1.2 million from the year-ago 1.79 million.

The branded figure, which consists of prepaid net adds and postpaid phone and tablet net adds, exceeded the number of branded net adds posted by AT&T and Verizon in the quarter.

The carrier also swung to a net loss, posting a $63 million net loss following the fourth quarter’s $101 million net income. The loss was down from the year-ago $151 million loss.

In the first quarter, almost all of T-Mobile’s branded-subscriber gains came from branded postpaid phone net adds. They hit 991,000 but were nonetheless down 21 percent from the year-ago quarter. AT&T and Verizon, in contrast, posted branded subscriber gains because of surging tablet net adds that offset a continued drop in combined prepaid/postpaid phone net adds.

“We expect to once again capture all of the industry’s postpaid phone growth in Q1, and we’ve done it while delivering an all-time record low 1.3 percent churn,” said president/CEO John Legere.

Total net adds: At T-Mobile, total net adds hit 1.82 million, down from the year-ago 2.39 million and below the levels of three quarters in 2014 when total net adds exceeded 2 million.

Besides brand subscriptions, the 1.82 million figure includes postpaid mobile-broadband net adds, M-to-M net adds, and wholesale (MVNO) net adds.

The first quarter marked the eighth consecutive quarter at T-Mobile of more than 1 million total net adds, including M-to-M and reseller net adds, but that number was down 24 percent from the year-ago quarter and follows a 2014 in which three of four quarters posted more than 2 million total net adds.

Of the 1.82 million total net adds, mobile broadband net adds, including tablets, accounted for 134,000 net adds, up from the year-ago 67,000, but branded prepaid net adds fell to 73,000 from the year-ago 465,000. Net new M-to-M and wholesale subscriptions combined rose 2.8 percent from the year-ago quarter to 620,000.

In hitting 1.82 million total net adds, T-Mobile exceeded AT&T’s total net adds of 1.22 million in the quarter, including connected-devices subscriptions such as vehicle telematics.

Verizon does not report wholesale and M-to-M subscriptions.

At the end of the quarter, T-Mobile’s subscription base hit 56.8 million.

Revenue, income: For the quarter, total revenues were up 13.1 percent to $7.78 billion from the year-ago quarter and operating income to hit $117 million, better than the year-ago operating loss of $28 million.

The net loss of $63 million was markedly better than the year-ago net loss of $151 million.

In contrast, Verizon’s wireless operating profit was $14.5 billion, and AT&T’s was $4.4 billion.

For the full-year 2014 period, T-Mobile posted net profit of $247 million, up from 2013’s $35 million.

Network expansion: To make room for all of its new subscribers, T-Mobile said it continues to expand its 4G LTE coverage. The company’s LTE network cuyrrently reaches 295 million people, and the company is targeting 300 million by the end of the year. The company operates capacity-expanding wideband LTE in 157 markets and is targeting more than 200 markets by year’s end. The company’s new 700 MHz A-block spectrum has been deployed in 55 markets, the company added.

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