T-Mobile is now the largest prepaid carrier, ahead of Verizon in number of customers.
In the third quarter, T-Mobile reported 21.6 million prepaid customers, Verizon tallied 21.4 million, and AT&T had 19.4 million. Before this quarter, Verizon had been the largest carrier since 2021 when the company bought TracFone Wireless from América Móvil, giving it more than a 20 million prepaid customer boost.
But with the posting of the earnings report, T-Mobile is now ahead by 175,000 customers.
The figures highlight the momentum that T-Mobile enjoys in the faster growing area of prepaid wireless service. Prepaid carriers have been facing stiff competition as companies try to outprice each other and offer customers the most enticing deal. Verizon has been losing customers and hasn’t seen prepaid growth since it gained 39,000 lines during the third-quarter of 2022.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile has been picking up the slack, which the company attributes to its “stable performance,” according to FierceWireless.
“Our unmatched offering is bringing more and more consumers and businesses to the Un-Carrier, including, for the first time ever, the highest share of postpaid switchers in smaller markets and rural areas,” Mike Sievert, chief executive officer at T-Mobile, said in a statement. “At the same time, we’re delivering significant shareholder value that will propel us into a future where we have plenty of room to run.”
While reliable service is one factor behind T-Mobile’s growth and brand appeal, its pending acquisitions of Mint Mobile and Ultra Mobile could add another 2 million prepaid lines if the Federal Trade Commission approves the deal. Verizon already has 11 prepaid brands under its umbrella, including Verizon Wireless, Visible, TracFone, and TracFone Straight Talk. After absorbing TracFone’s customer base, Verizon lost 2 million prepaid customers, giving T-Mobile an edge as it continues showing gains each quarter.
For years, Verizon has been more focused on postpaid plans, which bring in higher revenue per account than prepaid because postpaid customers typically boasted higher credit scores and spent more each month. But with postpaid growth slowing, Verizon invested more heavily into prepaid over the last few years.
Prepaid, meanwhile, is the focus of T-Mobile’s next expansion goal, according to PhoneArena. T-Mobile added 386,000 postpaid net accounts this quarter, more than the competition. Its Ultra Capacity 5G network hosts 300 million U.S. customers, while the total 5G network covers more than 330 million people.