T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) continued its run of strong subscriber growth in the fourth quarter, as the nation’s fourth-largest wireless carrier continues to take aim at its larger rivals.
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The company also said Wednesday it will offer to pay off early termination fees for customers who switch over before their Verizon (NYSE:VZ), AT&T (NYSE:T) or Sprint (NYSE:S) contract is up, countering a recent move by AT&T (NYSE:T) to attract T-Mobile users.
T-Mobile reported net customer additions of nearly 1.65 million to mark a third consecutive quarter of over 1 million additions. The wireless carrier posted a net gain of 1.02 million subscribers in the third quarter and a loss of 32,000 in the fourth quarter of 2012.
For the full year, T-Mobile logged 4.4 million new customers. Its total customer base now stands at 46.7 million.
The Bellevue, Wash.-based company added 869,000 postpaid customers, or users who are under contract. That reflects a 34% increase in postpaid customers from the third quarter.
In an effort to grab more customers from its rivals, T-Mobile plans to as much as $650 per line to customers who change carriers early and trade in an eligible phone.
“We’re giving families a ‘Get Out of Jail Free Card,’ ” said John Legere, T-Mobile’s CEO. “Carriers have counted on staggered contract end dates and hefty early termination fees to keep people bound to them forever. But now families can switch to T-Mobile without paying a single red cent to leave them behind.”
Legere has been outspoken on cellular plans and pricing. T-Mobile, which outpaced AT&T in subscriber growth each of the last two months, has made an aggressive push over the last two years to reshape phone plans.
On Friday, AT&T said it would give new customers coming over from T-Mobile up to $450, as the No. 2 carrier tries to dampen the smaller company’s growth.
T-Mobile shares were halted before the company’s preliminary fourth-quarter report was released. The stock closed Wednesday at $33.31, up eight cents.