T-Mobile’s all-in bet on unlimited pays off – CNET

T-Mobile CEO John Legere at his CES press conference, when he talked about moving to just a single unlimited data plan.

James Martin/CNET

No choice appears to be the right choice for T-Mobile customers.

The backlash over T-Mobile One — the company’s unlimited data plan — seems like a distant memory. When the carrier in August first unveiled its decision to remove all of its plans in favor of a single unlimited option, it drew heaps of scorn as customers complained that they would be forced into a pricier plan. Others simply decried the lack of options.

T-Mobile initially pulled back from the move, letting people choose its existing plans for a few months. But after “eliminating” taxes and fees, the company in January pulled the trigger and went all in on its unlimited data plan.

There appears to be no more lingering bitterness: the T-Mobile train kept chugging along with 1.1 million new customers in the first quarter.

The growth comes amid one of the most competitive stretches in the wireless business, as the carriers step over each other to win your business. Verizon on Thursday posted its first-ever loss of post-paid customers — people who pay at the end of the month and boast higher credit scores and loyalty — because it was late to the unlimited game.

That T-Mobile continues to outstrip the industry in customer growth during this period underscores the momentum behind the “Un-Carrier” movement.

A look at T-Mobile’s results vs. Verizon’s performance highlights the difference in trajectory. T-Mobile gained 914,000 post-paid customers, including 798,000 who used a phone. It also added 386,000 pre-paid customers.

Verizon, on the other hand, said it lost 289,000 post-paid phone customers, and 307,000 in total, marking the worst period for customer growth. The company said it saw things rebound after it unveiled its own unlimited plan in February.

“We’ve been beating up on the competition for over four years now while making wireless better for consumers,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a statement.

We’ll get another chance to see the effects of T-Mobile when AT&T reports results on Tuesday.

T-Mobile, the nation’s third-largest wireless carrier, posted first-quarter earnings of $698 million, or 80 cents a share, and revenue of $9.61 billion. Excluding one-time items, T-Mobile’s earnings would have been 48 cents a share.

Analysts, on average, forecast earnings 34 cents a share and revenue of $9.62 billion, according to Yahoo Finance.

T-Mobile shares rose 1.9 percent to $65.93 in regular trading, ahead of the release of the results.

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