T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) ended the year with a bang, adding 2.1 million total net wireless customers in the fourth quarter, capping a strong year of growth for the carrier. T-Mobile CEO John Legere has pledged to pass Sprint (NYSE: S) in subscribers to become the nation's No. 3 carrier largest carrier by subscribers in 2015.
T-Mobile notched 1.3 million branded postpaid net subscriber additions in the fourth quarter (of which 1 million were phone customers). The branded postpaid additions represent a 47 percent year-over-year jump. For the full-year 2014, the carrier reported branded postpaid net customer additions of 4.9 million, above the revised guidance range of 4.3 to 4.7 million T-Mobile provided in connection with its third-quarter earnings at the end of October.
T-Mobile said it also had 266,000 branded prepaid net customer additions. Wholesale net customer additions in the fourth quarter of 2014 were 586,000, up from 555,000 in the third quarter of 2014 but down from 664,000 in the fourth quarter of 2013. Included in the wholesale numbers, T-Mobile said it added 152,000 M2M customers and 434,000 MVNO customers.
For all of 2014, T-Mobile is projecting that it added 8.3 million total customers, which would represent an 89 percent jump from 2013. The year saw T-Mobile offer a wide range of promotions to entice customers, including an offer to pay off customers' Early Termination Fees if they switched and traded in their phones. The company also expanded its LTE network to cover 265 million POPs, introduced a music promotion that exempted many music streaming services from counting toward customers' data buckets, and launched several family plan promotions.
"We continued to take share from our competitors and attracted 8.3 million net customers in 2014 who were looking for value, simplicity and transparency," Legere said in a statement. "While my competitors are hiding behind less valuable connected device subscriber additions and managing profit expectations to the downside, T-Mobile delivered over 2.1 million customers in Q4, while managing the balance between growth and profitability. Needless to say, 2014 was a record breaking year."
T-Mobile also highlighted its porting ratios relative to Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) and Sprint. The carrier said it attracted customers at an overall ratio of 2.1 to 1.0 versus the other Tier 1 carriers for all of 2014, meaning that for every T-Mobile customer who left the carrier, T-Mobile gained 2.1 customers from its competitors.
In the fourth quarter, T-Mobile saw positive postpaid porting ratios of 1.4 against Verizon, 1.8 versus AT&T, and 2.2 versus Sprint.
Speaking at an investor conference this week, Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam said that the company's fourth wireless churn was higher than it has been in the past. He said that the higher churn indicated that customers are moving around in response to the rising price competition in the wireless market. However, he indicated that the customers Verizon is attracting are delivering higher average revenue per account than the customers who are leaving. "I'm comfortable with the quality of our base and the movement," he said. "The churn is resulting in a higher quality customer base."
AT&T CFO John Stephens said last month the carrier will likely see higher churn in the fourth quarter than it had in the year-ago period, but that the carrier is not too concerned about promotions or price competition.
Meanwhile, Sprint has been going all out to win back market share--the carrier is offering to cut customers' service bills in half if they switch from Verizon or AT&T through Jan. 15, though customers also need to purchase a new Sprint phone.
- see this release
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