Aug 6, 2020 - Technology

T-Mobile says it's now No. 2 wireless carrier, ahead of AT&T

An illustration of a puzzle combining the Sprint and T-Mobile logos

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

T-Mobile Thursday said it has overtaken AT&T to become the number two wireless carrier in the U.S., ending the second quarter with 98.3 million total subscribers. Shares in T-Mobile surged 7% in after-hours trading.

The big picture: T-Mobile's merger with Sprint, which a federal judge allowed to go forward in February, gave the company a boost, and left the U.S. with only three major national wireless carriers. Verizon is in the lead.

Details: T-Mobile's 98.3 million tally is above the 92.9 million combined subscriber count AT&T had across its core postpaid and prepaid wireless offerings at the end of last quarter.

  • Postpaid plans have customers settle a bill after each month of service. Prepaid plans, traditionally targeted at lower-income and higher credit-risk customers, are paid for in advance each month.

Flashback: Under a settlement with the Justice Department, T-Mobile agreed to sell off some prepaid assets and provide services to Dish Network. The companies also promised regulators they will deliver a 5G network to 97% of the U.S. within three years.

What they're saying: In an earnings call Thursday, T-Mobile executives boasted about the size and quality of its 5G network, saying it has more spectrum made for 5G than AT&T and Verizon combined.

By the numbers:

  • 1.2 million net new customers were added to T-Mobile's network this quarter.
  • Total revenues this quarter, the first as the "New T-Mobile," were $17.7 billion, with service revenues of $13.2 billion.
  • Net income was $110 million; diluted earnings per share, $0.09.
  • Net cash provided by operating activities was $777 million.
  • The adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization was $7 billion.
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