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T-Mobile USA launches interesting holiday promotions

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November 14, 2010

T-Mobile USA has launched some interesting promotions for the holiday season, unveiling some modifications to its 'Even More' contract plans that the company says will entice some users to either upgrade their plans or get new ones and offer them as gifts to their loved ones.

T-Mobile's new offerings include a single-line plan providing 1,500 anytime calling minutes, unlimited on-network and night and weekend calling, unlimited messaging and unlimited mobile Internet access for just $80 a month.

For multi-lines, the wireless carrier is offering 3,000 anytime calling minutes with the same unlimited features for $150 a month for two lines.

Both of these new plans are set to be available today in most U.S. markets. They do require a two-year contract, but also provide for a full device subsidy. The contract focus of the promotions isn't surprising as the wireless carrier continued to lose a lot of postpaid subscribers during the recently completed third quarter.

T-Mobile USA’s current individual plans provide 1,000 anytime calling minutes and the same unlimited features for $90 per month with a two-year contract, while its multi-line plans are priced at $180 for 3,000 anytime calling minutes and the same unlimited features.

The new plans follow recent changes by Verizon Wireless, U.S. Cellular Corp. and Alltel Wireless that seem to indicate that mobile service carriers are ramping up their holiday promotions ahead of the all-important shopping season.

In addition to its new promotional plans, T-Mobile also said that it will begin offering its previously announced tiered data, tethering and Wi-Fi sharing plans today as well.

Two weeks ago, the wireless carrier said it managed to post a small gain in the number of its wireless subscribers during the third quarter, though that increase came at a fiscal cost, however.

The U.S.' fourth largest wireless operator said it added about 137,000 new subscribers during the third quarter, following the loss of about 170,000 subscribers during the first half of the year and the loss of 77,000 customers during the third quarter of 2009.

Contract customer losses dropped from 140,000 subscribers during the third quarter of last year to the loss of 60,000 contract customers this year, which T-Mobile USA said was due to stronger gross customer additions and sales of connected devices, which totaled 1.8 million at the end of the third quarter.

Counteracting the loss of postpaid customers, T-Mobile USA noted that it added 197,000 prepaid and mobile virtual network operator customers to its network during the third quarter compared with 63,000 net additions during the third quarter of last year.

The wireless carrier attributed the growth to new MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) partners. Towards the end of the quarter, Wal-Mart Stores began offering its branded Family Mobile plans that run on T-Mobile's network. T-Mobile said it served about 2.4 million MVNO customers on its network at the end of the quarter.

T-Mobile USA noted that its customer churn rate remained fairly consistent year-over-year at 3.4 percent, with contract churn remaining flat at 2.4 percent and prepaid churn dropping from 7.4 percent during the third quarter of last year to 7.2 percent this year.

ARPU (average revenue per user) also remained flat year-over-year at $47, with contract ARPU holding steady at $52 and prepaid ARPU dipping slightly from $20 last year to $19 this year. Data ARPU was reported at $12.40 during the third quarter, or 27 percent of blended ARPU, an increase from the $10 reported during the third quarter of last year.

T-Mobile USA added that its text messaging services continued to be a significant part of its blended ARPU results, however, and that the trend appears to be increasing rapidly.

The wireless carrier added that smartphone customers on its network surged by 2.8 million customers at the end of the third quarter last year to 7.2 million customers in 2010.

Despite its continued network expansion, T-Mobile reported that capital expenditures actually dropped year-over-year from $787 million to $643 million during the quarter.

T-Mobile yesterday announced the expansion of its HSPA+ network to new markets in the U.S. with plans to cover 200 million potential new customers by the end of 2010.

In total, T-Mobile said it had about 33.81 million wireless subscribers on its network at the end of the third quarter. T-Mobile USA earlier this week announced tiered data pricing options for customers.

Total revenues dropped slightly year-over-year from $5.38 billion during the quarter last year to $5.35 billion.

But greater customer adoption of smartphones, which typically have higher subsidies, and continued expansion of the wireless carrier's HSPA+ network dropped the company's net income from $417 million during the third quarter of last year to $320 million in 2010.

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Source: T-Mobile USA.

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