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T-Mobile US hoovered up 5.5m postpaid customers in 2021

US MNO T-Mobile is once again patting itself on the back by revealing 2021 was a record year for customer additions.

Preliminary results published last week by the self-styled ‘un-carrier’ show that its postpaid base increased by a record 5.5 million last year, easily topping its guidance of 5.3 million. It added 1.8 million in the fourth quarter alone, also a new company record. The number of postpaid accounts was up by 2.1 million in 2021, and its prepaid customer base also increased, albeit by a decidedly more modest 342,000. Altogether, it meant T-Mobile ended last year with 108.7 million customers compared to 102.6 million at the end of 2020 (see table).

It’s a testament to how T-Mo is handling the integration of Sprint, convincing customers to migrate to one of its plans rather than be tempted by a switch to one of AT&T or Verizon.

“It is undeniable that T-Mobile’s unmatched best value, network and experience combination resonates with consumers and businesses when it results in record-setting net adds of 1.2 million postpaid accounts and 5.5 million postpaid customers in 2021, even as we continued to navigate Sprint churn during our accelerated integration,” said T-Mobile US chief Mike Sievert, in a statement.

T-Mobile last year ramped up its push to migrate Sprint customers onto its platform with Sprint Forward: a programme of pledges and incentives – including exclusive discounts – for Sprint customers switching to T-Mobile. Its launch came shortly after the operator confirmed plans to shut down Sprint’s LTE network by the end of June this year. Despite its best efforts, full-year churn did still creep up though, to 0.98 percent from 0.90 percent in 2020.

T-Mobile telling everyone how good it is at adding postpaid customers comes not long after T-Mobile told everyone how good it is at building a 5G network.

In October it shared figures from network testing outfit OpenSignal that showed T-Mobile customers’ average download speed was 118.7 Mbps, easily beating AT&T and Verizon, which came in at 51.5 Mbps and 56 Mbps respectively.

“Our 5G leadership continues to be unrivalled on every level,” said Sievert last week. “We are crushing our network build out goals. Our nationwide Ultra Capacity 5G and our Extended Range 5G expansion is way ahead of schedule and we aren’t slowing down. We’re way out ahead of the pack today creating the foundation for transformational 5G experiences that will define the future for years to come and consumers will benefit.”

To further cement its 5G prowess – and to ensure it still has plenty to brag about going forward – T-Mobile last week signed a new, expanded agreement with cell site provider Crown Castle. The 12-year deal gives T-Mobile access to more towers and small cell locations, helping the operator to increase the reach and capacity of its network.

“T-Mobile’s expanded alliance with long-term partner Crown Castle will fuel acceleration of our nationwide network build and provide synergies that we can further invest into that build,” said Neville Ray, president of technology at T-Mobile. “This agreement is another integral piece of T-Mobile’s ongoing efforts to rapidly expand what is already America’s largest 5G network. We won’t stop focusing on reaching even more customers and delivering fast 5G speeds to more people – every day and into the future.”

Indeed, and we’re sure T-Mobile won’t stop talking about it in those calm, measured and understated terms either.

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