Based on its fourth-quarter and full-year 2009 results reported today, T-Mobile USA racked up prepaid subscribers but still managed to report annual, as well as sequential, losses.
The company, owned by Deutsch Telekom, reported blended churn, including both contract and prepaid customers, was 3.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, down slightly from 3.4 percent in the third quarter of 2009 driven by improved prepaid churn.
Contract churn, which consists of the highest ARPU customers, increased in the fourth quarter of 2009 to 2.5 percent from 2.4 percent in the third quarter of 2009 and fourth quarter of 2008. Prepaid churn, including FlexPay no-contract, was 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, a decrease from 7.4 percent in the third quarter of 2009 due in part from the success of the new Even More Plus rate plans and seasonality.
Contract customers comprised 79 percent of T-Mobile USA’s total customer base as of Dec. 31, 2009, compared to 80 percent in the third quarter of 2009 and 82 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008.
Operating income in the fourth quarter of 2009 was down to $1.38 billion before depreciation and amortization compared with $1.57 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008.
As T-Mobile races to stay relevant, it has managed to grow its network, a key point if the nation’s fourth largest carrier is to compete with AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The company said that its national 3G network reached over 205 million people at the end of the fourth quarter of 2009, nearly doubling the 3G footprint during the year.
T-Mobile reports 3.9 million 3G-capable converged device users as of the end of 2009, up almost 40 percent from the end of the third quarter of 2009 and a nearly five-fold increase during the year. The fourth quarter produced 371,000 net new customers, up from a decline of 77,000 in the third quarter of 2009, but down from 621,000 in the fourth quarter of 2008.
Rumors renewed last week that Deutsche Telekom is looking to break-off T-Mobile into a separate company, however, no plans have been confirmed.