T-Mobile crushes it in Q4, adds 927K net phone subs

T-Mobile is celebrating today, having added a record high 6.4 million postpaid net customer additions in 2022, including 927,000 postpaid phone net adds in the fourth quarter.

Reporting preliminary results, T-Mobile in Q4 added 524,000 high-speed internet customers, which it said is more than AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Charter combined.

The operator said 2022 was “definitely the year of the un-carrier” and declared itself the nation’s fastest growing home broadband provider, with 2 million customers added in all of 2022, ending with a grand total of 2.6 million high speed internet customers.

Total net customer additions were 1.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2022 and reached a record 6.8 million for the full-year 2022. The total customer count increased to a record high of 113.6 million, according to T-Mobile.

“It's clear that T-Mobile's ability to offer both the best network and value is bringing new customers to the un-carrier and enticing those who join us to stay,” said T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert in a statement. “And our momentum won't stop as we continue to translate our long-established 5G lead into overall network leadership and execute on our unique growth strategy. We are perfectly positioned to profitably take further market share in 2023 and beyond!”

T-Mobile’s Q4 results were within range of what analysts had predicted. In a report for investors today, New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin said New Street was expecting phone net adds of 864,000 for T-Mobile compared with consensus estimates of 929,000.

New Street also was expecting higher fixed wireless broadband net adds of 531,000, which was lower than consensus estimates of 555,000; the company’s actual preliminary tally was the aforementioned 524,000.

CFO: Network, value working

Speaking at the Citi 2023 Communications, Media & Entertainment conference on Wednesday, T-Mobile EVP and CFO Peter Osvaldik brought up a familiar tune, giving credit to T-Mobile’s ability to bring the best network and best value, allowing it to leverage underpenetrated markets.

Asked to rate the quality of the overall net adds, he said the priority continues to be not only driving industry-leading growth but ensuring that it’s profitable growth. The take rate for the higher end Magenta Max plan continues to be tremendously high, he noted.

Interestingly, earlier Wednesday at the same Citi investor conference, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said Verizon will post positive Q4 net adds for its consumer division, reversing previous quarters’ negative direction. But he stressed that net adds aren’t the only measurement for financial success with a subscription-based business, suggesting that stepping customers up to higher priced plans can be even more lucrative when considering the cost of acquiring new customers.

T-Mobile’s conversion to higher rate plans

Osvaldik said T-Mobile also launched a promotion that drove incremental traffic to digital properties and into stores, and once customers were in the stores, they saw “tremendous” conversion to higher-tier rate plans.

The fourth quarter is always intense with promotions. The difference now is consumer perception is slowly changing and they’re getting more consumers questioning the age-old messaging about Verizon’s “best” network, according to Osvaldik.  

“We’re here to capture the switcher relationships,” he said. In the 5G world, with more connected devices and fixed wireless high-speed internet, they’re drawing customers in and then have the opportunity to expand accounts. Unlike how cable companies have required mobile customers to subscribe to their internet packages, T-Mobile doesn’t require home internet customers to be T-Mobile phone subscribers.

He said one thing they tried in Q4 was a $25 bundled offer, where new T-Mobile Home Internet customers could sign up at $25/month when they had one or more voice lines. A small minority of activations took that rate plan, but “we did see some incremental phone pull through,” he said.

T-Mobile is on pace to meet its previously stated goal of serving 7 million to 8 million FWA customers by the end of 2025, he said.