T-Mobile USA is rebranding its image, upgrading to LTE and refarming its spectrum. In the meantime, the company is touting its growth in the prepaid market, despite its mounting postpaid subscriber losses.
According to Mike Katz, T-Mobile's vice president of marketing and head of prepaid, the nation's No. 4 carrier is seeing customers adopt its "Monthly 4G" prepaid plans in record numbers. In a company blog post Katz wrote that "our prepaid business has doubled over the past year with the launch of Monthly4G plans and nearly 60 percent of new Monthly4G customers are using smartphones." Katz did not report specific numbers; T-Mobile will report its first-quarter earnings May 10.
In the blog post, Katz touted the carrier's prepaid device section, especially for smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S 4G, the company's fast HPSA+ network and its pricing. T-Mobile offers an HSPA+42 network covering 184 million POPs in 175 markets, and its HSPA+21 network covers around 215 million POPs. The company's $50 prepaid plan offers unlimited voice, messaging and up to 100 MB of data at HSPA+ speeds before being throttled; the $60 plan offers that and up to 2 GB of data at HSPA+ speeds before being throttled and the $70 plan offers up to 5 GB of data at HSPA+ speeds before being throttled.
"We're really favorably positioned," Katz told CNET. "We've done a good job of putting ourselves in a leadership position."
Over the past year T-Mobile has been bulking up its 4G prepaid offerings to not only compete with the likes of MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS), Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) and América Móvil's TracFone, but also to serve as a growth engine. On the postpaid side, though, T-Mobile has been hampered by its inability to sell Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone; Apple currently does not support the spectrum bands T-Mobile uses for HSPA. However, that situation may change when Apple releases its next iPhone.
In the fourth quarter of 2011, when the iPhone 4S was introduced, T-Mobile's branded contract net customer losses, excluding connected devices, were 706,000 in the fourth quarter of 2011, steeper than in the third quarter and the year-ago quarter. Branded prepaid net customer additions, excluding MVNO customers, were 220,000 in the fourth quarter, down from 254,000 in the third quarter but up from 145,000 net branded prepaid customer losses in the year-ago period.
- see this T-Mobile blog post
- see this CNET article
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