T-Mobile revenue rises on big subscriber boost

T-Mobile revenue rises on big subscriber boost

October 28, 2019

T-Mobile US Inc. attracted more lucrative cellphone subscribers than its rivals in the third quarter even as the fate of its merger with Sprint Corp. remained in limbo.

The carrier added 754,000 net new postpaid phone customers in the September quarter. Verizon Communications Inc. gained 444,000 such subscribers in the period while AT&T Inc. added 101,000. Postpaid customers are valuable because they pay their bills regularly at the end of the month and are less likely to switch providers.

T-Mobile’s deal to buy Sprint has received regulatory approval from the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission, but faces an antitrust challenge from a coalition of state attorneys general. The states’ lawsuit, led by California and New York, has had some defections in recent weeks, with Colorado and Mississippi now supporting the deal. It is scheduled to go to trial Dec. 9.

The carrier expects the roughly $26 billion all-stock merger will be allowed to close in early 2020, John Legere, T-Mobile’s chief executive, officer said on a webcast. He wore a black leather jacket over a T-shirt bearing the merger partners’ logos. He said executives are open to and continue to have discussions with the state attorneys general involved in the suit.

T-Mobile’s total subscriber base was 66.5 million at the end of September, including prepaid customers and excluding customers of other companies that use its network. Both T-Mobile and Sprint have a big business selling prepaid cellphone services. T-Mobile ended the third quarter of this year with 62,000 new prepaid customers.

The company reported net income rose 9.4% to $870 million from a year earlier, while total revenue increased 2% to $11.06 billion.

Sprint hasn’t yet said when it will announce financial results for the three months ended in September. The No. 4 provider has been struggling to hold on to customers in the saturated and competitive U.S. wireless market.

Executives at T-Mobile have spent the past year and a half working to secure regulatory approval for the Sprint deal, which would leave the U.S. with three major providers racing to roll out new 5G networks. The deal has the blessing of T-Mobile’s parent, Deutsche Telekom AG, and SoftBank Group Corp., Sprint’s controlling shareholder.

The companies have promised to help create a new U.S. wireless carrier by selling about nine million Sprint prepaid customers and spectrum to Dish Network Corp. In addition, T-Mobile has committed to a nationwide 5G buildout over the next several years.

T-Mobile has added millions of new subscribers in recent years by selling them lower-priced, unlimited data plans, nabbing customers from its rivals. In August, Verizon reduced the price of its unlimited plans by about $5 a month.

U.S. wireless carriers aren’t just competing on price. They are also adding perks, such as free access to music and video streaming services.

T-Mobile began the trend in 2017 when it gave subscribers on family plans free Netflix service. Verizon said last week it would give its wireless subscribers to unlimited plans a year of free access to Disney+, a new video service that launches in coming weeks.

Write to Sarah Krouse at [email protected]

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