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T-Mobile CEO John Legere. (T-Mobile Photo)
T-Mobile CEO John Legere. (T-Mobile Photo)

T-Mobile added a net total of 2.4 million customers in the first quarter — the biggest growth in its history — including record expansion of 1.3 million customers in the coveted category of branded postpaid accounts.

tmoThe continued growth takes the Bellevue-based wireless company to more than 49 million customers overall, up from 34 million a year ago. T-Mobile is now within 6 million customers of Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. wireless carrier. Adding some intrigue to the situation, Sprint is reported to be preparing an acquisition bid for T-Mobile — which might not be Sprint’s smaller rival for long, if the trends continue at this pace.

The company’s revenues rose to $6.9 billion in the first quarter, up from $4.7 billion a year ago, but the growth hasn’t been cheap, with promotions and other moves to attract customers cutting into the company’s bottom line. T-Mobile slipped to a $154 million loss for the quarter, compared with a $106 million profit a year ago.

T-Mobile has taken series of steps designed to shake up the wireless industry, the “Un-Carrier” strategy, as the company calls it. That has included shifting customers away from the long-term contracts that have defined the wireless industry, offering early upgrades, free international data roaming, and paying early termination fees for people who switch to T-Mobile.

“A year ago I promised that we would bring change to what I called this arrogant US wireless industry,” said John Legere, the company’s outspoken CEO, in T-Mobile’s earnings release today. “We are delivering on that promise and our results reflect the growing customer revolution that we’ve ignited.”

The wireless landscape certainly is evolving, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that AT&T, which lost a $39 billion bid to buy T-Mobile due to regulatory hurdles in 2011, is considering a buyout of DirecTV for $40 billion.

T-Mobile will hold its earnings conference call at 6 a.m. Pacific time.

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