T-Mobile USA racks up prepaying subscribers

February 25, 2010 By PETER SVENSSON , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- T-Mobile USA, the fourth-largest U.S. wireless carrier, said Thursday it gained 371,000 new customers in the fourth quarter, reversing subscriber losses in the third quarter.

But the new subscribers were mainly low-paying ones who don't sign contracts, and T-Mobile USA's earnings and revenue fell from the same period a year earlier.

T-Mobile USA, which is owned by Germany's Deutsche Telekom AG, ended the year with 33.8 million customers, up 1 million from a year ago. That means T-Mobile isn't growing as quickly as , which had 91.2 million subscribers at the end of the year, or AT&T Inc., which had 85.1 million. Sprint Nextel Corp., in third place with 48.1 million, has been losing customers.

T-Mobile USA has been building a faster data network in hopes of competing for higher-paying buyers of "smart" phones. The trends point against it, however: T-Mobile lost 117,000 net contract customers in the quarter, while adding a net 488,000 prepaying customers, who don't often have smart phones or data plans.

T-Mobile's net income was $306 million, down from $483 million in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Revenue was $5.41 billion, down from $5.72 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008. The main reason for the revenue decline was continuing price cuts: T-Mobile USA customers paid an average of $47 per month, down from $50 per month a year earlier.

Prices for voice and text-messaging services have been declining across the industry as competition intensifies. AT&T and Verizon Wireless are compensating by selling more data plans.

The Wall Street Journal reported three weeks ago that is considering an initial public offering for USA, to help fund the network buildout. The company hasn't commented on the report.

Explore further: Sprint Nextel to buy Virgin Mobile USA


Related Stories

Sprint Nextel to buy Virgin Mobile USA

July 28, 2009

(AP) -- Sprint Nextel Corp. is intensifying its focus on the fast-growing market for prepaid cell phone service with a $483 million deal to buy Virgin Mobile USA Inc.

Sprint Nextel posts wider 2Q loss, shares skid

July 29, 2009

(AP) -- Sprint Nextel Corp., the nation's third-largest wireless provider, on Wednesday said its loss widened in the second quarter as revenue and subscribers continued to decline. Its shares skidded 10 percent in morning ...

T-Mobile adds 325,000 net subs, mostly prepaid

August 6, 2009

(AP) -- T-Mobile USA, the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the country, says it added a net 325,000 subscribers in the second quarter, with most of them choosing to prepay rather than sign two-year contracts.

Sprint Nextel slows subscriber loss in 4th quarter

February 10, 2010

(AP) -- Sprint Nextel says its subscriber losses slowed in the fourth quarter, an encouraging sign for the wireless carrier that has lost millions of customers over the past few years.

Recommended for you

The ethics of robot love

November 25, 2015

There was to have been a conference in Malaysia last week called Love and Sex with Robots but it was cancelled. Malaysian police branded it "illegal" and "ridiculous". "There is nothing scientific about sex with robots," ...

Nevada researchers trying to turn roadside weed into biofuel

November 26, 2015

Three decades ago, a University of Nevada researcher who obtained one of the first U.S. Energy Department grants to study the potential to turn plants into biofuels became convinced that a roadside weed—curly top gumweed—was ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.