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T-Mobile Reverses Subscriber Declines

Bellevue, Wash.


‘s subscriber base grew in the
third quarter following two consecutive quarters of declines, but with only
137,000 net new subscribers, the carrier’s expansion was a weak fourth among
the top four carriers.


, AT&T increased total subscribers by 2.6 million for its
highest third-quarter gain ever, and Verizon Wireless’s subscriber base
expanded by 997,000. For its part, Sprint posted its second consecutive
quarterly gain in net new subscribers following three years of declines, with
the number of subscribers rising by 644,000 to mark the company’s largest
quarterly subscriber growth since 2006.

 The statistics include postpaid and prepaid
subscribers and subscribers acquired through third-party mobile virtual network
operators (MVNOs.) For T-Mobile, the stats also include 1.8 million connected
devices, which are devices such as netbooks, tablets, e-readers, and telematics
equipment with embedded wireless connections. AT&T and Verizon, on the
other hand, exclude connected devices from their total subscriber figures and
report them separately. AT&T’s connected-device numbers came to 78.5
million at the end of September, while Verizon’s came to 7.9 million.

Among its
subscribers, T-Mobile reported an expanded share of smartphone users. A total
of 7.2 million T-Mobile subscribers were using smartphones at the end of the
quarter, up sequentially from 6.5 million and up from a year-ago 2.8 million.

Sequentially and
year-over-year, T-Mobile’s net adds increased solely because of a growing
number of prepaid subscribers, which are less profitable than postpaid
customers. The company lost 60,000 postpaid subs in the third quarter but
gained 197,000 prepaid subs, most of which came through MVNOs, the carrier

With the
third-quarter gains, T-Mobile’s subscriber base came to 33.76 million, up from
a year-ago 33.42 million, keeping it in fourth place among the top four
carriers by subscriber count. In the first and second quarters, T-Mobile lost
77,000 and 93.000 subscribers, respectively.

third-quarter revenues were down 1.1 percent year-over-year to $4.15 billion
and were flat sequentially. Operating income was down year-over-year
sequentially by 28.8 percent and 19.9 percent, respectively, to $600 million,
and net income was off for the same periods by 23.3 percent and 20.8 percent,
respectively, to $320 million.