The numbers are in. Six months after promising to surpass Sprint as the third-largest carrier in the U.S., T-Mobile has finally done it. Sprint reported today 57.7 million customers for the end of the second quarter, and last month, compared to T-Mobile’s 58.9 million.
T-Mobile’s outspoken CEO John Legere predicted a year ago that the Bellevue-based wireless carrier would overtake Sprint in total customers by the end of 2014. But shortly before the end of the year, Legere hedged his bet, saying “whether it is now – or soon – I’m telling you, it’s a done deal!”
Today, Legere is celebrating on Twitter, wanting people to focus instead on how it got there rather than the milestone itself.
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) August 4, 2015
When Legere made the prediction last August, he had no idea that his next-closet competitor was gearing up for a massive offensive, by offering a somewhat similar game play to T-Mobile’s, including cut-rate plans and aggressive advertising campaigns targeting Verizon and AT&T.
Even though T-Mobile managed to surpass Sprint in the quarter, Sprint was quick to celebrate the positives. For instance, it was able to add a net 675,000 customers for the period ended June 30 (compared to net losses of 220,000 in the prior year quarter). In contrast, T-Mobile added an impressive 2.1 million net customers.
Sprint also said today it was raising its 2015 year outlook, by increasing adjusted EBITDA, which reports profits before some expenses, to $7.2 to $7.6 billion from $6.9 billion. During the quarter, it reported EBITDA of $2.1 billion.
“Over the past year, Sprint has made meaningful progress in our turnaround by improving our network performance and enhancing our overall value proposition,” said Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, in a statement. “Going forward, we are confident in our plan to leverage our unique spectrum assets to make our network a competitive advantage, aggressively reduce operating costs, and utilize our business relationships and assets to fund our turnaround.”
On a separate occasion, Legere was bold enough to take his prediction a step further, saying: “We will overtake Sprint this year, and next on our list is AT&T.” But after his experience in passing Sprint, maybe he’ll think twice before setting the deadline.
Here’s a snapshot of Sprint’s second-quarter performance: