T-Mobile posts customer gains, offers switching credits

01/08/2014 4:23 PM

01/08/2014 9:45 PM

T-Mobile US Inc. said it added 869,000 monthly subscribers last quarter, topping the average analyst estimate of about 650,000.

Chief executive officer John Legere, a self-styled rebel of the wireless industry who was thrown out of an AT&T Inc. party this week, announced the gains during a speech at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

He said the nation’s No. 4 wireless company had the best quarter in eight years, making it the fastest-growing U.S. wireless carrier.

T-Mobile also announced it is taking aim at one of the biggest barriers to switching cellphone carriers: early termination fees.

The company said it would cover the onerous fees, which usually run more than $300, for consumers who divorce their carrier and join T-Mobile. Under the offer, a consumer can receive up to $650 in credit after trading in a phone.

AT&T, second only to Verizon in subscribers, pre-emptively said last week that it would offer credit specifically to T-Mobile customers who switch to its network.

T-Mobile’s credits add to its Uncarrier campaign that seeks to take customers from rivals by moving away from the industry norms, such as two-year contracts and international roaming fees.

T-Mobile’s efforts come at a pivotal time for the wireless industry. The wireless phone networks that juggle Internet data and phone calls for millions of smartphone users are more vital than ever. But consumers are growing increasingly frustrated.

In its latest initiative, T-Mobile says it wants to make switching to its network as simple as possible. To get the customer credit, T-Mobile customers must trade in their own smartphone for up to $350 in credit, depending on the phone and its condition. They will then receive $300 for each line that incurred a termination fee.

To qualify, customers will have to show documentation that they left a carrier and paid an early termination fee. A customer will also need to buy a new phone. Only customers of the three major carriers, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless, are eligible for the credit.


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