T-Mobile spent a good chunk of its NEXT announcement on Wednesday at CES rehashing its comeback story, and there was no better way to cap off its tale than with a Cinderella ending in the form of a fourth quarter results preview.
According to CEO John Legere, T-Mobile delivered another blockbuster quarter in the last three months of 2016, pulling in a whopping 2.1 million total net additions. That figure, he said, represents the 15th straight quarter of more than one million net adds and the eighth time the carrier has surpassed two million net adds.
Of that number, Legere reported 1.2 million were postpaid net additions and 933,000 were postpaid phone net additions. The carrier’s prepaid segment also “cleaned everyone’s clock” in the quarter, raking in 541,000 branded prepaid net additions, he added. Churn stood at 1.28 percent for postpaid and 3.94 percent for prepaid, which Legere said were “best ever” figures for the fourth quarter.
For the full year 2016, Legere revealed T-Mobile brought in 8.2 million total net additions, 4.1 million postpaid net adds, 3.3 million postpaid phone net additions, and 2.5 million branded prepaid net additions. Legere noted it was the third year in a row T-Mobile added more than 8 million total customers.
All in all, T-Mobile had 71.5 million customers at the end of 2016, Legere said.
Those figures mark a stark contrast from the T-Mobile of 2012, which Legere noted posted postpaid churn of 2.55 percent, was losing 500,000 customers in a quarter, had no iPhone and zero POPs of LTE, and was fourth out of four in customer service.
But while onlookers will have to wait until February for the rest of T-Mobile’s fourth quarter financials, Legere, alongside CTO Neville Ray, dropped some other hints and predictions.
Amid chatter about cable companies entering the wireless space as MVNOs, Legere said no piece of T-Mobile’s network will ever be used by a cable provider for MVNO service. From there, he segued into predictions that Comcast and Charter will be number five and number six behind the big four carriers and will ultimately fail in the wireless business. However, he also forecast Verizon and Comcast would link up to become the most hated company in the industry.
On the FCC auction front, Ray said the Un-carrier will be moving into whatever spectrum it acquires “as fast as humanly possible” while respecting the broadcaster transition following the close of the proceedings.
Despite hype around 5G, Ray also observed the wireless industry is going to be competing around LTE for “much of the next decade.” Improvements there, he said, will include the jump to gigabit speeds, which he pointed out won’t necessarily require 60 MHz of spectrum. According to Ray, the math works out to allow gigabit speeds with just 50 MHz – and T-Mobile holds just that amount in certain places throughout the country.
“5 MHz carrier in LTE gives you about 35, 38 mbps. 256-QAM takes you to 50 (mbps), 4×4 MIMO takes it to 100 mbps. Ten of those gives you a gigabit. So you actually don’t need 60 MHz – that’s the Sprint babble – you only need 50 MHz. You can look at our spectrum holdings, there are places in the country where we can get to that on a downlink,” Ray said. “It’s a great milestone for us to chase.”