T-Mobile, hot on the heels of rejecting a $15 billion buyout from Iliad and an apparently abandoned takeover by Sprint, has announced today that it's now the US's #1 prepaid wireless provider by subscriber volume.
The exact number of prepaid subscribers T-Mobile cites is 15.64 million, about half a million above former #1 Sprint's 15.19 million. Sprint, of course, operates two major American prepaids - Virgin Mobile and Boost. AT&T and Verizon lag behind at 11.34 million and 6.04 million prepaid subscribers, respectively.
This does ignore the fact that, from a business perspective, postpaid subscriber numbers are typically what investors are looking for. Postpaid subscribers are often either stuck in 2-year contracts or device payment plans with their provider, making them a more reliable source of profit. They also generally have more expensive plans precisely because they are postpaid customers.
T-Mobile, though, is proud to be number one in prepaid, and John Legere predicts firmly that the company will surpass Sprint in overall subscribership, not merely prepaid, by the end of the calendar year. We'll see if that comes to pass, though it's hard to imagine Sprint keeping up with T-Mo at this point - the carrier has been dogged with seemingly ever-changing pricing structures and an agonizingly slow LTE rollout. Just today, longtime CEO Dan Hesse was finally ousted, likely at the urging of the carrier's new owner - Japanese firm SoftBank - and replaced by an outsider. One thing's for sure, after years of being #4, T-Mobile is unabashedly on the upswing.