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T-Mobile keeps pilfering customers from its wireless rivals

Momentum is everything, as T-Mobile lures customers with features like weekly freebies and a cheaper unlimited data plan.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
2 min read

T-Mobile, led by CEO John Legere, is playing a numbers game.

CNET

T-Mobile was in a gracious mood on Tuesday.

It praised the "generosity" of its rivals for contributing to its impressive customer growth.

The nation's third-largest wireless carrier released preliminary third-quarter subscriber figures, noting that it had added 735,000 branded postpaid phone customers -- or folks who pay their bills at the end of the month -- and 650,000 prepaid customers. In addition, it saw improvement in the porting ratio against each of the carriers, or the number of people switching their numbers to T-Mobile versus away from it.

Those tallies represent an increase over T-Mobile's second-quarter results, underscoring the company's momentum as it lures customers with features like weekly freebies and, most recently, the offer of a new, cheaper unlimited data plan. That's heated up the competition to the point that we're even seeing offers of a free iPhone 7 for new customers.

Indeed, this month's launch of the latest iPhone likely gave T-Mobile a boost. The carriers recognize that customers are more likely to commit to a new service provider when Apple brings a new marquee phone to market.

"We are adding customers from ALL of the other guys at an increasing rate," T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a press release.

T-Mobile also backed its previous forecast for its full-year results and said it would provide a more detailed update when it releases its full third-quarter results in late October.

The company released the figures this week to give its executives, who are slated to speak at an investor conference on Thursday, talking points during their sessions.