T-Mobile leads in wireless growth again as it awaits Sprint acquisition

The Un-carrier doesn't want to rock the boat right now.

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, had a decent quarter. 

Screenshot by Sally Neiman/CNET

T-Mobile will almost certainly take the checkered flag for wireless growth this quarter as consumers continue to flock to the Un-carrier. 

The nation's third-largest wireless carrier said it added 1.6 million net total customers, with 774,000 critical postpaid phone subscribers, or customers who pay at the end of the month. Verizon added 295,000 such customers, while AT&T nabbed 69,000 customers. Sprint, which traditionally follows the pack, reports its results Wednesday. 

The results come amid a relatively quiet period for T-Mobile, which isn't looking to rock the boat as it awaits regulatory approval for its acquisition of Sprint. The combination of the two could shake up the industry, and potentially light a fire under its 5G deployment, but it's not a slam dunk that the deal gets the OK. 

"We continue to drive our business beyond expectations and despite the work underway to close the merger, we delivered our best financials ever in the third quarter," CEO John Legere said in a statement. 

Shares of T-Mobile rose to $66, up $2.08, or about 3 percent, in after-hours trading. 

T-Mobile executives spent much of the time on their financial conference call with analysts talking up the prospects of 5G, as well as what the Sprint deal will do for its 5G plans. Legere said on the call that he remains optimistic that the deal would get approved. The company, meanwhile, is still preparing an over-the-top TV service built from its acquisition of startup Layer3, and plans to launch it later this year. 

T-Mobile's results come after its larger peers, Verizon and AT&T, reported mixed results. Both companies padded their numbers with a surge in connected devices like Apple Watch, which generate lower revenue. 

T-Mobile added 35,000 prepaid customers -- a weak spot for the company. Earlier this month, T-Mobile rebranded its prepaid arm from MetroPCS to just Metro, and threw in a few new promotions to juice growth. T-Mobile also committed to bringing 5G to Metro. T-Mobile Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert noted that more of the growth was coming from the post-paid side of the business. 

The company posted a profit of $795 million, or 93 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $550 million, or 63 cents a share. Revenue rose 8.2 percent to $10.84 billion. 

Analysts, on average, forecast earnings of 85 cents a share on revenue of $10.72 billion for the period, according to Yahoo Finance

The story originally published at 1:18 p.m. PT.

Update, 2:42 p.m. PT: To include additional executive comments. 

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