T-Mobile’s hard-charging CEO John Legere says when they finish overtaking Sprint later this year in total number of customers, the Bellevue-based carrier is gunning for AT&T.
“We will overtake Sprint this year, and next on our list is AT&T,” he said.
The claims about Sprint have been made before, but Legere added AT&T to his take-down list at today’s Un-Carrier 7.0 event in San Francisco, where it unveiled a new router for its customers that will boost coverage using WiFi.
As usual, Legere used his time in the spotlight to rant about the other U.S. wireless carriers, which are all in Las Vegas at the cellular industry’s annual conference.
In today’s presentation, which was part-press conference, part-comedy routine, he repeatedly referred to Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint as Curly, Larry and Moe from “The Three Stooges.”
The jabs have become a common way for Legere to appeal to customers, and to make the fourth-largest carrier in the U.S. look cooler than the other more stodgy carriers.
And, while Legere is most definitely jumping the gun by naming AT&T as its next target — since it has yet to even overtake Sprint — the bold approach does seem to be working.
“We’ve had five quarters with more than a million customers added,” he said, adding that August was T-Mobile’s best month ever. T-Mobile gained 2.75 million gross additions during the month to beat the company’s second-best ever month by 10 percent.
Overtaking Sprint is not really a huge stretch, but leapfrogging AT&T is like jumping the Grand Canyon. T-Mobile had more than 50 million subscribers as of the end of the second quarter vs. Sprint’s 54 million subscribers. Meanwhile, AT&T is the second-largest carrier with nearly 117 million subscribers, or twice as many as T-Mobile.
The ability to broadcast its subscriber progress today was nearly as important as the unveiling of the router.
T-Mobile is currently seeking to raise additional cash to help it participate in an upcoming wireless auction, and at the same time, it is entertaining buyout offers. By releasing its subscriber gains before its third-quarter results, which are due out next month, it may be able to drum up more interest in either one of those endeavors.
Following the formal presentation, Legere was asked when he thought T-Mobile could overtake AT&T.
“I don’t know,” he admitted, although he said he likes presenting that goal to employees, so they known where they are headed. “We plan to be the No. 1 wireless company in the U.S…But no, I have no time frame associated with it.”