As the end of the third quarter nears, T-Mobile and Sprint appear to be maintaining their subscriber momentum, while Verizon and AT&T are in worse shape than previously thought.
That's the conclusion of UBS Global Research, which on Wednesday issued its revised estimates of third-quarter wireless financials.
UBS now expects T-Mobile to add 820,000 net postpaid phone subscribers in the quarter, a 120,000 boost over its previous estimate of 700,000. And it forecast Sprint to gain 235,000 subscribers, a slight boost over the previous 219,000 estimate.
Meanwhile, Verizon's forecast is far dimmer than expected: Just 92,000 net adds, down from the previous estimate of 360,000. AT&T will lose more subscribers than originally thought as well: 230,000 net losses instead of 190,000.
Partially driving these changes are the “competitive intensity” of the free iPhone 7 promotions, which T-Mobile and AT&T ended on Sunday but Verizon and Sprint are still offering. “We are updating our wireless estimates to reflect stronger 2H upgrade activity and lower equipment revenues due to competitive trade-in offers,” UBS analysts wrote in the forecast.
Even though Verizon's promo is still ongoing, UBS said the carrier is still suffering from too-low churn. “We estimate postpaid churn remains low for Verizon but gross adds slowed given competition, leading to lower overall net adds.”
Meanwhile, the analysts noted that T-Mobile replaced its promo with other attractive offers, and thus they didn't expect the carrier's otherwise strong subscriber growth to be affected.
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