T-Mobile USA adds nearly 1m new customers

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T-Mobile USA, the Deutsche Telekom subsidiary that is the fourth largest US mobile network operator, added 981,000 net new customers in the first quarter and reported a 14 per cent increase in revenues to $4.6bn.

Deutsche Telekom has emerged as a potential bidder for Sprint Nextel, the struggling third largest US carrier. A combined company would potentially have more subscribers than the two largest US mobile operators, AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless, which is owned by Verizon Communications and Britain’s Vodafone.

The net subscriber gains coupled with the acquisition in February of SunCom Wireless which had 1.1m subscribers in the south-eastern US, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, lifted T-Mobile’s total subscriber base to 30.8m of which 85 per cent are monthly contract customers.

Customer churn, a key measure of customer loyalty, declined to 1.7 per cent from 1.9 per cent a year earlier while average revenues per subscriber slipped to $51 in the first quarter of 2008, down from $52 in the fourth and first quarters of 2007.

Operating income before depreciation and amortization at the Bellevue, Washington-based company increased by 18 per cent to $1.44bn while

T-Mobile launched its UMTS (universal mobile telephone system) 3G network in New York earlier this week using spectrum it acquired in a government auction in 2006. T-Mobile’s handset portfolio currently includes four UMTS-capable handsets and is planning to introduce additional 3G handsets – including “converged” smartphone devices - later this year..

The company, the last of the major US mobile carriers to rollout a 3G network, plans to extend the service to 20 to 25 other major US markets by the end of the year.

“T-Mobile has again delivered another quality customer growth quarter while pushing the innovation frontier in communications,” said Robert Dotson, chief executive of T-Mobile USA. “In the quarter we crossed the 30m customer mark more than tripling our customer base over the past six years under the T-Mobile brand.”

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