T-Mobile loses postpaid, adds prepaid customers

T-Mobile, primarily a contract carrier, started adding more prepaid subscribers than postpaid. While this kept the carrier’s numbers in the black, many in the industry worried that it would bring down revenues. That seems to be the case, as we can see in T-Mobile’s fourth quarter numbers. Their net income fell to $306 million, from $483 million in Q4 2008. Unsurprisingly, they again added more prepaid customers than postpaid. This time it was a bit different, though. T-Mobile actually lost postpaid customers during the quarter. Overall T_Mobile added 488,000 prepaid customers to only 117,000 postpaid. This must have come as a huge disappointment, as the company made a big push late in 2009 to beef up its plans and smartphone lineup. Despite adding the BlackBerry Bold 9700 and the Motorola Cliq, T-Mobile couldn’t attract more postpaid customers. On the prepaid side, however, T-Mobile is doing just fine. Both MetroPCS and Cricket made their fourth quarter numbers official (though we learned them back in January), and neither came within 150,000 subscribers of T-Mobile. Yet, as we can see from their net income and their ARPU, down $3 year over year, that might not be the biggest reason for congratulations. I’ve been wondering for a while now when T-Mobile would recognize its advantage in prepaid and start focussing there. Once they announced Project Dark, though, I thought it would never happen. With the focus on more smartphones and a faster network this year, it doesn’t appear that will change. Still, what are they going to do if they continue to add more prepaid customers throughout 2010?]]>

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  1. MenoRikey on February 26, 2010 at 9:27 am

    As long as prepaid keeps generating profits, they can’t ignore it for too long. I’m holding out for (real) prepaid data plans.

  2. Kim on February 26, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Prepaid is definitely the way to go and the competition in that market is already fierce. But hey competition is great for us consumers. I recently switched over to StraightTalk and now pays $45/month for unlimited talking/texting which is what I basically use my cell phone for. I’m sure it also has data capabilities but I wouuldnt’ be able to comment on that portion since it’s not familiar territory.