Now that a deal between T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) and Sprint (NYSE: S) is dead, T-Mobile CEO John Legere is taking the gloves off and repeated his prediction that T-Mobile will surpass Sprint in terms of subscribers to become the No. 3 U.S. carrier by the end of this year.
"I predict the #uncarrier will overtake @Sprint in total customers by the end of the year! There, I said it!," Legere tweeted. That follows a more fulsome prediction he made earlier when T-Mobile trumpeted that it had surpassed Sprint to become the top facilities-based U.S. prepaid carrier.
"The good news just keeps on coming for T-Mobile," Legere said in a statement. "The momentum we're seeing with our T-Mobile and MetroPCS brands is outstanding, and the fact that we've blown by everyone to take the No.1 spot in prepaid is icing on the cake. As a matter of fact, I'm going on record--I predict we'll overtake Sprint in total customers by the end of this year. Not someday. Not next year. This year. Americans are voting with their feet, and they're joining this Un-carrier revolution by the millions."
The comments essentially stand as a challenge to Sprint's incoming CEO Marcelo Claure, who takes the helm Monday from outgoing CEO Dan Hesse.
T-Mobile boasted it now has 15.64 million prepaid customers compared to Sprint's 15.19 million prepaid subscribers. However, those numbers do not take into account TracFone Wireless, América Móvil's U.S. MVNO, which counts 25.5 million prepaid customers.
In any case, Legere's prediction appears relatively realistic. Industry analyst Chetan Sharma noted that T-Mobile is now "within a striking distance of Sprint and could become the No. 3 operator in the country before early 2015."
Sprint ended the second quarter with 54.55 million total customers, including wholesale, MVNO and customers it acquired from U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM) and Clearwire. It had 53.33 million customers on its "Sprint platform" CDMA and LTE networks.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile ended the second quarter with 50.54 million total customers when including M2M and MVNO subscribers. However, unlike Sprint, which has continued to bleed subscribers, T-Mobile has been adding customer at a steady clip the past six quarters.
In the first two quarters of 2014, T-Mobile added 3.87 million total net wireless customers, including 2.23 million branded postpaid subscribers. Sprint lost 801,000 total net wireless customers in the first two quarters, including Sprint platform postpaid net losses of 412,000 customers. However, Sprint has promised to return to postpaid customers growth in the fourth quarter and is testing new rate plans, which it might introduce at some point later this year.
In the meantime, T-Mobile continues to bear down on Sprint and Legere has vowed to introduce another "uncarrier" offering later this summer. Sharma noted to PC World that T-Mobile has netted positive subscriber growth in every quarter since the beginning of 2013, and is about to erase all the losses it suffered in a period that began in 2009.
Will the collapse of the Sprint/T-Mobile merger usher in a U.S. price war?
Dish's Ergen: Collapse of Sprint/T-Mobile talks 'increases' our wireless options
Sprint officially names Claure to replace Hesse as CEO
Rumor mill: Iliad working with Dish, Cox, Charter and others to improve T-Mobile bid
Analysts: The benefits of an Iliad/T-Mobile deal are hard to see