T-Mobile US Inc. continued its string of adding 1 million or more subscribers each quarter in the waning months of 2015.
The wireless carrier said Wednesday it expanded its subscriber count by 2.06 million during October, November and December, often a season of strong activity in the industry. The preliminary report did not include financial results for the quarter.
Its report comes as Overland Park-based rival Sprint Corp. said it is extending its half-off rate plan offer to customers of T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T who switch to Sprint. The deal promises to charge those customers half the monthly rate for plans comparable to what the rivals offer.
Sprint cited “overwhelming response” as its reason for extending the offer, announced in November and originally set to end Thursday. It had launched the half-off deal amid improving ratings of its wireless network’s performance, and the company hit that theme again.
“After receiving such positive feedback from customers and hearing from our salespeople about store traffic, I knew we had to extend this exciting promotion to give even more wireless subscribers the opportunity to experience Sprint’s award-winning network and take advantage of the best value in wireless,” Sprint chief executive Marcelo Claure said in the announcement.
Sprint offered no subscriber totals from the fourth quarter and is expected to update its customer count and release its financial results in few weeks.
Claure also has drawn attention to a report showing that Verizon commercials touting its network superiority overlooked improvements across all four national carriers.
T-Mobile surpassed Sprint last spring and became the No. 3 carrier in total subscribers.
It said gains in the fourth quarter included 917,000 phone customers who meet higher credit standards allowing them to pay for service after using it rather than on a prepaid basis. These customer counts are widely watched in the industry because they represent the highest revenue and profit sources for wireless companies.
For all of 2015, T-Mobile grew by 8.3 million subscribers, reaching 63.28 million at the end of December.
“That means we added 23,000 customers per day, every day for the last two years, so trust me when I say we have no plans to stop disrupting the status quo in wireless,” chief executive John Legere said in the T-Mobile announcement.
T-Mobile released the numbers ahead of presentations by some of its executives at an industry conference in Las Vegas.
Sprint also may have grown during the quarter, and T-Mobile executives said as much during their presentations, according to one report.
They said that gains were “coming primarily” from AT&T and Verizon and that they expect “Sprint to put up decent subscriber growth numbers” from the fourth quarter, said Jennifer Fritzsche, an analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, in her report to clients on the T-Mobile presentations.
Sprint chief financial officer Tarek Robbiati is scheduled to speak at the conference Thursday afternoon. He is part of a new management team behind Claure working to cut $2.5 billion in spending, a process that has triggered layoffs.
Sprint had 58.58 million subscribers at the end of September.