T-Mobile USA adds customers but sheds sales in latest quarter

The carrier attracted 61,000 new customers in total in the fourth quarter, though sales fell by 5.2 percent from a year ago.

One of T-Mobile retail stores.
One of T-Mobile retail stores. T-Mobile USA

T-Mobile USA managed to grab more customers last quarter, but that achievement didn't translate into higher revenue.

For the fourth quarter, the company saw a net gain of 61,000 customers, compared with a net loss of 526,000 customers a year earlier. The overall news, however, was mixed.

The number of prepaid customers grew for the sixth quarter in a row, with 166,000 additions last quarter. But the number of contract customers dropped by 515,000, compared with a drop of 492,000 in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Total revenue for the quarter reached $4.9 billion. Though that marked T-Mobile's second sequential quarter of sales growth, the figure was down 5.2 percent from 2011's fourth quarter. A 14 percent drop in revenue from contract subscribers was responsible for most of that decline. At the same time, earnings plummeted by 25 percent to a little over $1 billion.

On the plus side, T-Mobile said that its Value plans are doing well.

Introduced last year, the Value plan allows subscribers to pay for their new phones in monthly installments. The plan also lets people bring their own unlocked devices to T-Mobile rather than having to shell out for a new one.

Over the fourth quarter, 1.3 million subscribers opted for the Value plan, adding up to more than 6 million Value customers.

Around 100,000 iPhone owners have been jumping ship to T-Mobile each month due to the bring-your-own-device option. More than 2 million iPhone users are now on the carrier's network.

In December, T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere confirmed that the carrier would start selling the iPhone sometime this year.

On the horizon, T-Mobile is prepping to merge with MetroPCS in the next couple of months. T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom is naturally hoping the deal will pay off in higher revenue and a larger market share.

"We are looking forward to the merger of T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS," Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Obermann said in a statement. "This combination will substantially benefit the shareholders and customers of both companies by creating the leading wireless value carrier with expanded scale, spectrum and financial resources to compete across the entire U.S. market."

 

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