Last week, T-Mobile reported its results for the last quarter of 2017. Headlining the generally-excellent news was T-Mobile’s subscriber figures, which shows the company added 891,000 postpaid customers in Q4 2017, while keeping “churn” — the turnover of customers, where lower is better — to a Q4 record of just 1.18%.
With strong numbers like that, it’s easy to expect that 2018 will be a slightly flatter year for the company. In fact, T-Mobile’s own projections predict the company will add just 3 million new customers in 2018, down from 2017. But according to analysts’ notes seen by Fierce Wireless, the numbers don’t show T-Mobile slowing down any time soon.
After taking nearly two thirds of postpaid phone net add share in 2017 (even with Cable’s entry into Wireless), we think TMUS is on track to take a similar amount of share (DBe: 60%+) in 2018,” Deutsche Bank Markets Research said in its note on the earnings. “Simply put, TMUS remains our top Telecom pick, and we believe the recent stock pull back creates a very attractive buying opportunity in a high-quality story.” Wells Fargo had a similar outlook, writing “As we look forward to 2018, we view TMUS’s 2-3MM postpaid subscriber add guidance as conservative (although we note T has indeed become more aggressive in the marketplace).”
T-Mobile is clearly the current darling of the telecoms industry, as it has totally rebranded itself over the last five years, at the same time as investing in network infrastructure to chip away at the traditional advantage held by Verizon and AT&T. As the networks deploy LTE Advanced technologies and start transitioning towards 5G, the incumbent coverage advantage enjoyed by AT&T and Verizon will become less and less relevant, as all four networks will need to deploy significant upgrades to keep up with the pace of innovation. Although the marketing departments would have you believe otherwise, all four major carriers are investing heavily in 5G, including T-Mobile.
What does all that mean for you, the person who actually has to use a cell network to make calls and send Snapchats? With any luck, a more level playing field between the networks will mean increased competition and ever-lower prices, which is about the best thing that anyone could hope for. The only danger is that as T-Mobile keeps growing, it will start to look more and more like a traditional carrier. In particular, the company is committed to rolling out its own TV package this year, with the idea being to compete with the cable TV monopolies, and challenge Verizon and AT&T’s cable/wireless bundles. Hopefully, T-Mobile can do that while retaining its identity, rather than becoming just another carrier.