T-Mobile Set To Overtake Sprint as Third Largest U.S. Wireless Carrier
Already claiming to be the fastest-growing wireless carrier in the U.S., T-Mobile may be ready to overtake Sprint as the country's third-largest mobile services provider. Sprint currently claims 56 million customers while T-Mobile says it serves around 55 million customers.
According to T-Mobile CEO John Legere, his company might have already bypassed Sprint, which he claims wrongly counts expired accounts with its third-party mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) carriers. In documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Sprint has noted that, as of December 31, 2014, it had just over 1.7 million MVNO subscribers whose accounts have been inactive for at least six months.
More details are likely to emerge when Sprint releases its earnings data for Q4 2014. The company announced today that it has scheduled a Q4 earnings call for May 5. T-Mobile released its Q4 results in February.
T-Mobile: 2014 a 'Record Year'
Neither T-Mobile nor Sprint responded to requests for comment. However, in its most recent earnings release, T-Mobile claimed to have achieved a "year of record growth" in 2014, fueled in large part by its aggressive "un-carrier" marketing campaign.
"2014 was the best year of growth in company history," Legere said at the time. "Our un-carrier moves helped us blow away the competition. The best is yet to come as the future looks bright in 2015."
For its part, Sprint has made less of an issue of the possibility that it might fall to fourth place in the U.S. wireless market. Instead, the company has been putting its focus on expanding its LTE network across the country. It also plans to make a new push for customers as it moves its employees into 1,440 RadioShack locations affected by that retailer's bankruptcy restructuring.
Since launching its un-carrier campaign in 2013, T-Mobile has targeted customers of other wireless carriers with programs that include no annual service contracts, free international data roaming and rollover of unused data. Sprint, meanwhile, kicked off an aggressive half-price marketing campaign in December aimed at wooing away customers of Verizon Wireless and AT&T, the number one and number two carriers in the U.S., respectively.
According to the most recent mobile review from RootMetrics, Verizon and AT&T also still rank at the top in network performance. However, both T-Mobile and Sprint are closing ranks on the leaders as they build out their own nationwide networks.
Another factor that could soon affect all the major wireless carriers is Google's planned entry into the market. The search giant is reportedly planning to begin selling mobile services sometime this year by entering into MVNO agreements with both Sprint and T-Mobile.