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T-Mobile USA Back In Black In Q1

Bellevue, Wash. — T-Mobile USA posted first-quarter net income of $107 million following two consecutive quarters of net losses and gained more net new subscribers in the quarter than it did in all of 2012.

The first-quarter’s net income to $107 million, however, was still 47 percent below that of the year-ago period but better than the fourth quarter’s $8 million net loss and the third quarter’s $7.7 billion net loss, which was due to a one-time $8.1 billion good-will impairment charge triggered by the planned merger of MetroPCS and T-Mobile.

The company posted a full-year 2012 net loss of $7.3 billion and a 2011 net loss of $4.7 billion.

The first-quarter figures exclude MetroPCS financial data, which is reported separately even though both carriers are now owned by the same parent, T-Mobile US.

Net subscriber additions, consisting of branded and wholesale subscriptions, surged to 579,000, up from the fourth-quarter’s 61,000. In all of 2012, the carrier added only 204,000 net new subscribers.

First-quarter revenues, nonetheless, fell 7 percent to $4.7 billion compared to the year-ago period and were down sequentially by 4.7 percent. T-Mobile attributed the reduction to branded postpaid customer losses that were partially offset by increased data revenues. Also bringing down revenues was the shift to Value and Simple Choice plans, which result in lower monthly service revenues even though revenues from handset sales go up, the company said. Phones sold under the plans aren’t subsidized.

The surge in net adds came mainly from MVNO and M-to-M customers, accounting for a combined 576,000 net subscriber additions. Total branded postpaid and prepaid customers, however, were nonetheless up for the first time since the first quarter of 2009, although by a meager 3,000, the company said.

 The carrier gained 202,000 branded prepaid customers, though that was down from the year-ago 249,000. The carrier lost 199,000 branded postpaid subscribers, though that was fewer than the 510,000 lost during the year-ago period. It attributed the smaller postpaid subscriber losses to “fewer launches of new handsets and promotional activity by T-Mobile’s competitors.”

Branded postpaid churn shrank to 1.9 percent in the quarter, down from a year-ago 2.5 percent and the fourth-quarter’s 2.6 percent.

In other metrics, the company announced that it sold about 500,000 iPhones between April 12 and May 8. The company began on April 12 to offer iPhones in company-owned stores with its new Simple Choice service plans.

In contrast, Verizon activated 4 million iPhones in its fiscal first quarter, and Sprint activated more than 1.5 million iPhones.

At the end of the first quarter, T-Mobile supported 2.1 million iPhones on its network, including 1 million branded postpaid subscribers who brought their own iPhone to the network. The 2.1 million users also include MVNO customers.

All told, about 1 million postpaid subscribers, or 5 percent of the carrier’s 20.1 million postpaid subscriber base, were using an iPhone at the end of the first quarter, and another 62 percent were using other-brand smartphones.