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 said.
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.
Total 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.