connections, according to Sharma. That growth was driven largely by continued momentum from Verizon Wireless and AT&T, but more importantly by a rejuvenated T-Mobile. Here's a quick breakdown on the nation's top wireless carriers and their general strategic position at the close of the third quarter:
T-Mobile US rolled to another strong quarter of subscriber growth in the third quarter, making good on executives' promises that the carrier would continue the momentum generated by its new no-contract plans, handset upgrade program and aggressive new style.
Sprint posted its first quarterly net profit since 2007 in the third quarter under new ownership of Japanese parent SoftBank. However, the carrier still lost subscribers as the hangover from its shutdown of the Nextel network at the end of the second quarter continued to hurt its results.
América Móvil's U.S. MVNO, TracFone Wireless, reported just 5,00 net subscriber additions in the third quarter, compared to 302,000 in the year-ago period. The carrier's figures also come on top of its 192,000 net subscriber losses in the second quarter, which were pinned on a company-wide effort within the parent firm to shut off the service of inactive users.
T-Mobile US is expected to report strong subscriber growth in the third quarter, according to analysts, and may once again lead U.S. carriers in terms of phone subscriber additions in the period.
AT&T reported stronger subscriber growth and posted record smartphone sales in the third quarter. The company is plowing ahead with its LTE network deployment and thinks its network strength will insulate it from intensifying competition in the market.
Verizon Wireless added 1.1 million net retail connections in the quarter, including 927,000 net retail postpaid connections. However, those results were below some analyst expectations--and New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin warned that Verizon's sluggish third quarter results could be attributed to increased competition from the newly recharged T-Mobile US.
Wireless carriers are in for a tumble over the next several years, as the subscriber and average revenue per user growth trend that have historically characterized the industry starts to wane, according to a new report from Ovum.
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said that Sprint investors need to be patient as the carrier undergoes the next chapter in its turnaround under SoftBank control, and warned that real progress might take another two years to achieve.
In the second quarter of 2013, the industry grew by 335,000 subscribers, which is the lowest subscriber-add number this millennium. A significant reason for the low growth is that approximately 1 million Lifeline connections had to be disconnected because the carriers were unable to verify eligibility. The industry make-up also changed considerably in Q2.