América Móvil's U.S. MVNO, TracFone Wireless, lost 318,000 total customers in the first quarter, which it blamed largely on disconnections it had to make related to its participation in the federal Lifeline phone program.
AT&T Mobility reported better-than-expected postpaid subscribers in the first quarter, adding 441,000 new subscribers. In addition the company reported churn of just 1.02 percent, which it said was the best it had ever reported in a first quarter.
Sprint has made a lot of news recently about plans to expand its distribution and even bring phones directly to customers. It's all part of an effort to retain the company's customer base and drum up more sales in the hopes of growing net subscriber additions. However, unless Sprint clarifies its brand message and improves its 2.5 GHz LTE network, I fear it will not amount to much.
As the first-quarter earnings season draws near, one of the big questions is whether T-Mobile US will officially surpass Sprint in terms of total subscribers to become the No. 3 U.S. carrier. It's one of several interesting questions that will be worth watching for as the carriers hold their quarterly earnings conference calls.
Sprint continues to argue that even if T-Mobile US officially passes it in terms of total subscribers to take the mantle of the No. 3 U.S. carrier it won't have a material impact on Sprint's business or strategy.
In an effort to lure more new customers and regain market share, Sprint said it will reimburse all of the costs for a customer to switch over, including their Early Termination Fees and any remaining payments on equipment installment plans, no matter what customers owe.
AT&T Mobility expects to add around 400,000 postpaid customers in the first quarter, which would be a weaker performance than the year-ago period and below analysts' expectations--but the carrier also expects to see its postpaid churn improve. Financial analysts predicted the company's improved churn figures would be offset by weaker wireless margins.
The two main disruptors in 2015 will be Sprint and T-Mobile, as they are specifically targeting AT&T and Verizon's postpaid bases. There may be shifts throughout the year and of course volatility is expected when the next iPhone version is introduced. For 2015 carrier competition remains healthy.
U.S. Cellular capped 2014 with a strong performance in the fourth quarter. The company managed to grow its postpaid customer base in 2014, the first time it has been able to do so since 2009.
The fourth-quarter earnings season is coming to a close, so now it's time to see how the nation's top wireless carriers stacked up against each other in terms of key metrics. Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson has assembled these slides that provide an in-depth look at how Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility, Sprint and T-Mobile US performed in the fourth quarter. Dawson's research covers relatively standard metrics including revenue growth and net adds, but also includes deep dives into prepaid vs. postpaid performance, subscriber acquisitions vs. losses, and more. Special Report