01/21/2014 02:49 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

T-Mobile Captures More Growth

Sprint Loses Customers in Fourth Quarter of 2014
AT&T and Verizon Retain Customers Well, Gain Fewer From Others

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners released analysis of the results from its research on mobile phone carriers for the calendar quarter that ended December 31, 2013. This analysis features findings about consumer trends in mobile phone activations from October-December 2013, and is based on its survey of US subjects that activated a new or used mobile phone in October-December 2013.

CIRP finds that T-Mobile increased its customer base by the highest percentage among the four largest mobile phone carriers. Sprint saw its customer base decrease as it lost more customers than it gained.

Among the four largest carriers, AT&T has the highest share of activations in the quarter, at 34%. Verizon had the next highest share, at 29% of activations. T-Mobile and Sprint had similar shares, at 13% and 11%, respectively. All other carriers (regional and prepaid carriers) together had 14% of activations (see chart).

Carrier Share of Activating Customers at the Beginning and End of Q4 2013

These figures represent how each carrier added and lost customers during the quarter. In this way, AT&T captured the largest share of activations, even though it historically had a slightly smaller share of total customers relative to Verizon.

Relative to customers that were eligible to activate a new or used phone, three carriers increased their customers: T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. Sprint and other carriers decreased relative to the eligible customer base. T-Mobile showed the most significant increase, growing 8% relative to its share at the beginning of the quarter. Its disruptive and innovative offerings may account for this growth. Conversely, Sprint appears to have lost customers, and had 7% smaller share relative to the start of the quarter.

AT&T and Verizon also had significantly higher customer retention, with Sprint, T-Mobile, and other carriers retaining fewer customers in the quarter (see chart).

Carrier Customer Retention Q4 2013

AT&T and Verizon each retained almost 90% of their eligible customers relative to the start of the quarter, while Sprint and T-Mobile retained about 70% of their eligible customers. We measure retention relative to the customers that each carrier had a chance to keep or lose. We define these customers as those that activated a new or used phone in the quarter, so they had the choice to switch or stay with their existing carrier. T-Mobile made up for this lower retention by gaining many more customers from other carriers.

For additional information, please contact CIRP.