The second quarter of 2016 was another generally positive one US mobile operators.
AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint all gained both total customers and postpaid customers last quarter. Except for AT&T, all gained high-margin postpaid phone customers.
T-Mobile added 890,00 postpaid, (including 646,000 postpaid phone), 476,000 prepaid, and 515,000 wholesale customers for a total gain of 1.88 million customers. That compares with gains of 2.21 million in Q1 2016 and 2.07 million a year ago in Q2 2015.
AT&T added 257,000 postpaid, 365,000 prepaid, and 1.20 million connected device subscribers, but lost 459,000 reseller customers for a total gain of 1.36 million subscribers vs gains of 1.78 million in Q1 2016 and 2.09 million in Q2 2015. AT&T's postpaid gain came entirely from from non-phone devices such as tablets, laptops and hotspots as AT&T lost 180,000 postpaid phone subscribers!
Verizon added 615,000 postpaid connections including 86,000 new postpaid phone subscribers but lost 30,000 prepaid customers for a total gain of 585,000 vs gains of 463,000 in Q1 2016 and 1.01 million in Q2 2015.
Sprint added 180,000 postpaid (including 173,000 postpaid phone) and 531,000 wholesale customers but lost 331,000 prepaid users for a total gain of 375,000 customers vs gains of 447,000 in Q1 2016 and 675,000 in Q2 2015.
Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile were profitable last quarter but Sprint again posted a loss, its eight quarterly loss in a row.
AT&T made $3.41 billion last quarter compared with $3.80 billion in Q1 2016 and $3.08 billion in Q2 2015.
Verizon made a profit of $831 million last quarter compared with $4.43 billion in Q1 2016 and 4.35 billion in Q2 2015.
T-Mobile made $225 million last quarter compared with $479 million in Q1 2016 and $361 million in Q2 2015.
Sprint lost $302 million compared a losses of $554 million in Q1 2016 and $20 million in Q2 2015.
Here's how the operators ranked by total subscribers at the end of the quarter:
Verizon 142 million*
AT&T 131.8 million
T-Mobile 67.4 million
Sprint 59.5 million
*Estimated. Verizon doesn't report wholesale and M2M customer numbers. Verizon reported 113.2 million retail connections at the end of Q2, 2016. I estimate that Verizon has approximately 142 million total subscribers, including MVNO, wholesale and M2M connections. América Móvil's Tracfone subsidiary added 110 thousand customers last quarter compared with a loss of 458 thousand subscribers in Q1, 2016 and a gain of 25 thousand a year ago in Q2 of 2015. According to the company, it added more customers in June 2016 than in any other month in the last two years. TracFone's revenue was also up, 0.7% quarter over quarter and 5% year over year. TracFone operates the Straight Talk, NET10, Tracfone, Simple Mobile, Page Plus, Total Wireless, Telcel America and SafeLink Wireless MVNO brands. Postpaid phone customers are generally much more profitable than tablet, connected device, prepaid and wholesale customers. Industry watchers put a lot of emphasis on postpaid phone customer gains and loses. All the operators except AT&T gained postpaid phone subscribers with T-Mobile the biggest gainer by far.
T-Mobile added 646,000 postpaid phone customers
Sprint added 173,000
Verizon added 86,000
AT&T lost 180,000
The number of branded prepaid customers increased by 590 thousand, the eight quarterly increase in a row. The gains came from T-Mobile, AT&T and TracFone, as Verizon and Sprint lost prepaid customers.
T-Mobile added 476,000 prepaid subscribers
AT&T added 365,000
TracFone added 110,000
Verizon lost 30,000
Sprint lost 331,000
Total prepaid customers by carrier as of the end of last quarter were:
Tracfone 25.3 million
T-Mobile 18.91 million
Sprint 13.97 million
AT&T 12.63 million
Verizon 5.37 million
In summary, it was great quarter for T-Mobile, which lead the industry in all four customer addition metrics: total customer adds, total postpaid adds, total postpaid phone adds and total prepaid additions. AT&T was the most profitable operator and was 2nd to T-Mobile in subscriber adds. Verizon gained far fewer new customers than AT&T and T-mobile and its profit declined substantially. Sprint gained customers, including highly valued postpaid phone subscribers, but lost money. TracFone, after a string of quarterly subscriber loses, gained new customers for a change.