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T-Mobile USA loses 492,000 contract customers in Q3

A massive charge from the T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS merger hits T-Mobile's bottom line for the third quarter.

T-Mobile USA

T-Mobile USA has lost close to half a million subscribers during the third quarter, according to the company's earnings statement out this morning (PDF).

The network lost a total of 492,000 postpaid contracts -- the lucrative long-term contracts that that bring in regular income for a cellular network -- during the quarter, causing a drop in its average revenue per user (ARPU) to $42.78, a decline of 7 percent on the same quarter a year ago.

The firm also reported a net 287,000 wholesale customers, including machine-to-machine (M2M) agreements and through its resellers.

However, T-Mobile USA also reported 365,000 prepaid customers for the third quarter, up 44 percent from the year-ago period. That helped propel the carrier's total net customer additions to 160,000 customers for the quarter, an increase of 27 percent year over year. The branded prepaid division brought in $450 million in revenue, a 38 percent increase year over year, while its ARPU rose by 12.5 percent, to $27.35.

The U.S.' fourth-largest cellular network reported total revenues of $4.9 billion for the third quarter, down around 6 percent year over year.

The company generated a net loss of $7.8 billion for the quarter. While that sounds bad on the face of it compared to the $332 million profit it made in the same quarter a year ago, the company also reported a $8.1 billion non-cash impairment charge relating to the decision made by its parent company, Deutsche Telekom, to merge T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS.

The cell network said this won't affect its current or future cash flow, or ongoing business operations.

T-Mobile USA closed the third quarter, which ended on September 30, with 33.3 million customers in total.