Chicago – T-Mobile and Sprint grew their cellphone subscriber bases by a greater percentage than rivals Verizon and AT&T in the second quarter, with T-Mobile posting the highest percentage gain and beating all others in subscriber retention, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) found.
Compared to their starting subscriber bases, T-Mobile grew its cellphone customer base by 24 percent on a net basis after losing existing subscribers, and Sprint grew its customer base by 16 percent, CIRP said. Verizon grew its cellphone subscriber base by a net 2 percent, and AT&T’s base shrank by 1 percent.
Though Sprint came in second in its percentage rate at which its subscriber base expanded, the carrier placed last in the rate at which it retained subscribers, CIRP also found.
T-Mobile gained by attracting subscribers away from other carriers, gaining first-time phone users, and retaining existing subscribers, CIRP found in surveying 500 consumers who activated new or used phones in the quarter.
“T-Mobile’s retention rate actually beat the leaders this quarter, with 82 percent of existing T-Mobile
customers who activated a new phone staying with T-Mobile, while AT&T and Verizon both retained 81 percent by the same measure,” said CIRP co-founder Josh Lowitz. “T-Mobile achieved a comparable retention rate to the two leaders, AT&T and Verizon, for the first time since we started measuring loyalty,” he added.
T-Mobile’s “un-carrier strategy of shaking up the U.S. mobile phone market began about two years ago,” he said, “so this first round of renewals of [other carriers’] two-year contracts that [T-Mobile] began to attract in mid-2013 is an indication of the long-term impact of that strategy.”
For the quarter, T-Mobile lost 18 percent of its starting subscriber base to other carriers but netted a 24 percent subscriber-base gain for two reasons: The number of people who switched from other carriers came to 35 percent of its starting subscriber base, and another 7 percent came from first-time phone buyers.
At Sprint, the carrier lost 24 percent of its starting subscriber base to other carriers, offset by a 39 percent gain from attracting other carriers’ subs and another 1 percent gain from first-time phone buyers.
“Relative to their base at the beginning of the quarter, Sprint attracted 39 percent and T-Mobile
35 percent of their quarterly base from other carriers,” said CIRP co-founder Mike Levin. “This is twice the rate of AT&T and Verizon.”
In contrast, both Verizon and AT&T lost 19 percent of their starting subscriber bases to other carriers, with Verizon offsetting the loss by growing its starting base by 19 percent with other carriers’ subscribers and by growing its base by 1 percent by attracting first-time phone users. AT&T gained 15 percent and 3 percent, respectively.