T-Mobile Builds Strength, Sprint Merger Now Unlikely

By Craig Galbraith Comments
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**Editor's Note: Which is America's top wireless network? Click here to see what we discovered.**

Expect T-Mobile USA to announce another strong quarter when it releases its earnings report Thursday.

America’s fourth-largest wireless operator has boasted about its subscriber gains in recent quarters, ever since dumping smartphone subsidies and two-year contracts for new customers. Billing itself as the “uncarrier," T-Mobile has found a niche in the market among those wireless customers who want to sign up without a contract and don’t mind paying full price for smartphones – often in monthly installments – as an alternative to higher monthly bills.

While that strategy is yet to result in overwhelming profit, at least one analyst is bullish on the Magenta Network going forward.

“… We expect another strong quarter for [T-Mobile USA] with regard to gross and net add share. Though financial results are likely to be pressured by changes to pricing plans and increased promotional activity again, we believe investors will continue to look through the weakness, viewing higher net adds as more positive long term," noted Canaccord Genuity analyst Greg Miller.

Miller is a little more cautious in regard to T-Mobile rival Sprint, which on Tuesday released its first-quarter numbers. Sprint is the only one of the big four operators that’s shedding subscribers – 231,000 in Q1 – although that number was less than Wall Street was expecting. America’s third-largest carrier says it’s confident it can turn things around under its new ownership — SoftBank of Japan closed on its purchase of 80 percent of Sprint late last year.

“We believe Sprint’s [first-quarter] results highlight the difficulties in turning around core subscriber trends at a time when the company is rebuilding its network while competitive pressures are clearly intensifying," Miller said.

Much has been made of a potential Sprint-T-Mobile merger announcement later this year, but Canaccord Genuity isn’t sold on the idea that would create a third wireless giant to go head-to-head with Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

“In line with our long-term prediction, we believe the FCC has taken additional steps that would make it increasingly difficult for the third and fourth wireless competitors to merge. By including 2.5 GHz spectrum in spectrum cap analyses, along with the well-publicized regulatory opposition, it would be difficult to envision how such a deal could be approved," Miller added. 

Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

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