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T-Mobile customer losses continue as do its smartphone gains


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T-Mobile USAís 2nd quarter looked much like its first: It continued to shed customers while bolstering its growing smartphone and mobile data business. The U.S. arm of Deutsche Telekomís mobile empire lost 50,000 subscribers in the quarter ending June 30, but the damages were worse in its contract customer base, which became 281,000 subs smaller in three months.

Despite the postpaid losses, T-Mobile managed to keep its smartphone momentum going, adding 700,000 net smartphone customers in Q2 and increasing smartphone penetration to 29% of its customer base, up from 27% last quarter. So while contract customers appear to be fleeing to prepaid plans and other carriers, T-Mobile is upselling the postpaid customers it keeps with the lure of smartphones and its high-speed packet access plus (HSPA+) network. At the end of the quarter, T-Mobile had 33.6 million total customers, 7.8 million of them prepaid and 25.8 under contract. That gives T-Mobile 9.8 million smartphone customers total.

Though T-Mobile is seeing success with smartphones, its competitors are outpacing it. AT&T had 34 million smartphone subscribers, about 50% of its postpaid base, at the end of Q2 (CP: AT&T subs holding on to their unlimited plans), while Verizon Wireless had 30 million smartphone customers, about 36% of its retail postpaid base (CP: As it rolls out LTE, VZW growth accelerates). Sprint alone activated 1.7 million WiMAX smartphones and modems in Q2 (CP: Sprint confirms LightSquared LTE tie-up).

Prepaid average revenue per user stayed flat at $180 a month year over year and quarter over quarter, but postpaid ARPU ticked up $1 to $53 after being suspended at $52 for the last year. Overall data ARPU increased 50 cents in from Q1 to $13.60 and a full $2 over last yearís Q2. It now represents 30% of blended ARPU.

Parent DT has started calling T-Mobile USA a discontinued operation as it prepares for the unitís acquisition by AT&T. The $39 billion deal would not only create a mega-carrier dwarfing all operators but Verizon, but would solve both their spectrum problems. T-Mobile has no spectrum allocated for LTE while AT&T claims it doesnít have enough (CP: The New AT&T: Itís about the spectrum).


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