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Second Quarter 2016 Prepaid Mobile Subscriber Numbers By Operator

2nd Quarter 2016 Total Subscribers By Operator
The second quarter of 2016 was another generally positive one US mobile operators.

AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint all gained both total customers and postpaid customers last quarter. Except for AT&T, all gained high-margin postpaid phone customers. 

  • T-Mobile added 890,00 postpaid, (including 646,000 postpaid phone), 476,000 prepaid, and 515,000 wholesale customers for a total gain of 1.88 million customers. That compares with gains of 2.21 million in Q1 2016 and 2.07 million a year ago in Q2 2015.
  • AT&T added 257,000 postpaid, 365,000 prepaid, and 1.20 million connected device subscribers, but lost 459,000 reseller customers for a total gain of 1.36 million subscribers vs gains of 1.78 million in Q1 2016 and 2.09 million in Q2 2015. AT&T's postpaid gain came entirely from from non-phone devices such as tablets, laptops and hotspots as AT&T lost 180,000 postpaid phone subscribers!
  • Verizon added 615,000 postpaid connections including 86,000 new postpaid phone subscribers but lost 30,000 prepaid customers for a total gain of 585,000 vs gains of 463,000 in Q1 2016 and 1.01 million in Q2 2015.
  • Sprint added 180,000 postpaid (including 173,000 postpaid phone) and 531,000 wholesale customers but lost 331,000 prepaid users for a total gain of 375,000 customers vs gains of 447,000 in Q1 2016 and 675,000 in Q2 2015.
Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile were profitable last quarter but Sprint again posted a loss, its eight quarterly loss in a row.

  • AT&T made $3.41 billion last quarter compared with $3.80 billion in Q1 2016 and $3.08 billion in Q2 2015.
  • Verizon made a profit of $831 million last quarter compared with $4.43 billion in Q1 2016 and 4.35 billion in Q2 2015.
  • T-Mobile made $225 million last quarter compared with $479 million in Q1 2016 and $361 million in Q2 2015.
  • Sprint lost $302 million compared a losses of $554 million in Q1 2016 and $20 million in Q2 2015.
Here's how the operators ranked by total subscribers at the end of the quarter:

  • Verizon 142 million*
  • AT&T 131.8 million
  • T-Mobile 67.4 million
  • Sprint 59.5 million
*Estimated. Verizon doesn't report wholesale and M2M customer numbers. Verizon reported 113.2 million retail connections at the end of Q2, 2016. I estimate that Verizon has approximately 142 million total subscribers, including MVNO, wholesale and M2M connections.

América Móvil's Tracfone subsidiary added 110 thousand customers last quarter compared with a loss of 458 thousand subscribers in Q1, 2016 and a gain of 25 thousand a year ago in Q2 of 2015. According to the company, it added more customers in June 2016 than in any other month in the last two years. TracFone's revenue was also up, 0.7% quarter over quarter and 5% year over year. TracFone operates the Straight Talk, NET10, Tracfone, Simple Mobile, Page Plus, Total Wireless, Telcel America and SafeLink Wireless MVNO brands.

Postpaid phone customers are generally much more profitable than tablet, connected device, prepaid and wholesale customers. Industry watchers put a lot of emphasis on postpaid phone customer gains and loses. All the operators except AT&T gained postpaid phone subscribers with T-Mobile the biggest gainer by far.

  • T-Mobile added 646,000 postpaid phone customers 
  • Sprint added 173,000 
  • Verizon added 86,000
  • AT&T lost 180,000 
The number of branded prepaid customers increased by 590 thousand, the eight quarterly increase in a row. The gains came from T-Mobile, AT&T and TracFone, as Verizon and Sprint lost prepaid customers.

  • T-Mobile added 476,000 prepaid subscribers
  • AT&T added 365,000
  • TracFone added 110,000
  • Verizon lost 30,000
  • Sprint lost 331,000
Total prepaid customers by carrier as of the end of last quarter were:

  • Tracfone 25.3 million
  • T-Mobile 18.91 million
  • Sprint 13.97 million
  • AT&T 12.63 million
  • Verizon 5.37 million
In summary, it was great quarter for T-Mobile, which lead the industry in all four customer addition metrics: total customer adds, total postpaid adds, total postpaid phone adds and total prepaid additions. AT&T was the most profitable operator and was 2nd to T-Mobile in subscriber adds. Verizon gained far fewer new customers than AT&T and T-mobile and its profit declined substantially. Sprint gained customers, including highly valued postpaid phone subscribers, but lost money. TracFone, after a string of quarterly subscriber loses, gained new customers for a change.

Sources: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, América Móvil

Second Quarter 2014 Mobile Subscriber Numbers By Operator
Third Quarter 2014 Mobile Subscriber Numbers By Operator
Fourth Quarter 2014 Prepaid Mobile Subscriber Numbers By Operator
First Quarter 2015 Prepaid Mobile Subscriber Numbers By Operator
Second Quarter 2015 Prepaid Mobile Subscriber Numbers By Operator
Third Quarter 2015 Prepaid Mobile Subscriber Numbers By Operator
Fourth Quarter 2015 Prepaid Mobile Subscriber Numbers By Operator
First Quarter 2016 Prepaid Mobile Subscriber Numbers By Operator


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  1. Looks like AT&T/Cricket was top dog, with T-Mo gaining ground.

    Meanwhile, Verizon's profits and customer growth are lagging behind.

    As for Sprint, it's a matter of course that they're still bleeding money.

    Big S doesn't have good coverage, rock bottom prices, cheap prepaid phones that AREN'T ESN locked to a specific carrier, true sim-based BYOD, or even the basic level of competence needed to understand that destroying their one saving grace is arguably the stupidest thing they could ever do.

    Anyway, I wouldn't be surprised if the graph lost a bar some time soon.

    Sprint can only bleed triple digits for so long.

  2. At this rate, T-Mobile total subscribers should surpass those of AT&T by 2083.

    Might as well stick a fork in AT&T right now.... it's done.

    Uncarrier YEAH!!!!

  3. Honestly, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon all look like they've had a bad couple of months.
    AT&T lost 180,000 postpaid and a staggering 459,000 MVNO customers. The good news is they gained 365,000 branded prepaid (Cricket and GoPhone) customers.
    Which is a lot better than what Sprint managed to pull off. Losing 331,000 branded prepaid (Boost, Virgin and Sprint Prepaid) customers. But at least they gained 531,000 MVNO customers, probably all from RingPlus. Sprint should also be worried about the fact that AT&T has almost as many prepaid customers (12.63 million) as Sprint (13.97 million) at the rate Sprint is losing prepaid customers, AT&T will soon overtake Sprint.
    Verizon lost 30,000 branded prepaid customers (no surprise there) and a gain of only 86,000 postpaid phone customers doesn't exactly scream success.
    Meanwhile, T-Mobile gains 646,000 postpaid phone, 476,000 branded prepaid (MetroPCS, GoSmart Mobile and T-Mobile prepaid) and 515,000 MVNO customers. It looks like T-Mobile's smaller network is good enough for most new subscribers.
    I don't know what poor 110,000 fools signed up for America Movil brands. I doubt they'll stay long.

    1. "It looks like T-Mobile's smaller network is good enough for most new subscribers."

      Or maybe the inferior network isn't good enough. However since it costs less people are able to put up with not having coverage.

    2. Interesting detailed assessment, but it overlooks the fact that even now four times as many people choose the more expensive networks with much better coverage than choose T-Mobile.

    3. Subscriber amounts only matter to a certain point. Look at the money that is being made. AT&T and Verizon in the billions and T-Mobile only in the millions.

  4. Looks like Tracfone is not rolling over. A competitive Movil is big trouble for Sprint.

    1. I think Sprint is Sprint's own worst enemy.

      When's the last time they actually did something competitive and sensible?

      In the Serengeti of mobile carriers, Sprint is like wounded water buffalo that any predator can walk by and take a chunk out of at will.

    2. I wish Movil would just go out of business. I used to be one that would praise their value but unfortunately I've had nothing but headaches recently.
      I can tell that most people place value over anything else and are willing to tolerate awful customer service as part of the package.
      I rather pay a little more and get better service in all regards.

    3. Agree Anon above...

      AFAIA concerned Movil can dry up and die and The world would be better off. I will never use them nor will I place any customers, friends, family on them, I relish getting people away from them.

      Here is to them returning to loosing hundreds of thousands of subscribers a quarter, I know I will be doing my part educating people to the bad "bargain" any Movil brand really is.

    4. Customer service is minimally needed in my experience. People go on about how MVNOs have terrible service. I have been with TPO (current), Ptel, H2O, AT&T prepaid, and have never had a problem not resolved. Just my experience though. MVNO CS has been good enough.

    5. The thing is that Movil owned MVNO's will steal / chisel your acct. and then dismiss you as a bother & a liar. If you ever have technical / service issue you truly will be on your own. The MVNO's you listed above are better than Movil brands.

    6. "have been with TPO (current), Ptel, H2O, AT&T prepaid, and have never had a problem not resolved."
      One common trend that I noticed among the MVNO's you mentioned is that not one of them is part of America Movil/Tracfone. I believe people are referring to those specifically. While customer service set backs can be experienced with any company, America Movil brands are only consistent in their numerous customer complaints and overall poor training given to their associates.
      I also counted myself amongst the people who could care less about customer service until recently when I had issues with an America Movil owned MVNO. The whole ordeal was so aggravating over a period of time that I had executives of the company call me after their customer support had messed up royally.
      I now inderstand what the numerous people complaining were trying to warn others about. There is bad customer service and then there is Tracfone's bad customer service in a league of their own. The ethical moral thing that people can do is to let others know so they don't have to experience what we have been put through,

    7. For the record, America Movil brands in the USA/Puerto Rico -

      Page Plus
      Simple Mobile
      Straight Talk
      Telcel America
      Total Wireless

      Did I forget any?

    8. Tracfone is missing from above list

    9. American Movil provides cheaper plans on extensive national networks. This makes them better to have around for price pressure and competition than even MetroPCS.

      Because of this, I want Movil to stick around.

  5. While I appreciate the report, I have a issue with classifying TracFone as a carrier. They are an MVNO. Why are you lumping them next to the actual carriers? Yes, they are a big MVNO. I get that, but there are several independent MVNOs providing to many thousand retailers that Trac has forgotten about. Sure, numbers are numbers and Trac increased their numbers mainly through Total Wireless sales in Walmart, but again...this does not make them a carrier. JMO. Thanks.

    1. TracFone is included because I have data for them. As a public company, America Movil is obligated to release audited quarterly and annual reports listing TracFone earnings and subscriber numbers. Other MVNOs are privately held and do not disclose their subscriber counts or financials. If I had data for other MVNOs I would include it.

  6. Has anyone heard about the future of Kroger i-Wireless? Back in May it was announced Sprint was buying 70 percent of it to merge Assurance Wireless with Access Wireless, which is where the news ends.

    As of the end of last year they no longer sell i-Wireless phones at Kroger stores, non-Lifeline plans are 'sold out' on their website and haven't been updated in about a year (their least expensive unlimited talk/text/data plan is $35 and offers only 500 MB of highspeed data), and their Facebook and Twitter accounts haven't been updated since March of this year, 5 months ago. I am able to continue to use the credit generated by a shopper card which covers the $10 plan every month (no longer on their website), however lately even the online account management has had glitch issues.

    If anyone knows, I'd like to know, since I'm hoping to move the phone over to another Sprint MVNO after the credit is exhausted or something happens to non-Lifeline plans, whichever comes first.

    1. i-Wireless phones still seem to be available at shop.krogeriwireless.com/phones. At least I was able to add a G Stylo to the cart.

    2. I can't imagine an MNVO tied into a relatively small, non-nationwide grocery chain as having a future.

    3. Kroger is the largest US supermarket chain by revenue according to Wikipedia.

    4. Kroger is in only 31 states... 3/5ths

    5. Even when their presence is not in all states, their generic food brand is. I see them at my local stores with everything from cereal to water to other non-consumable items.

    6. Jason in PortlandAugust 7, 2016 at 6:26 PM

      I'm doing an about-face right now, since I went back to the site after I posted that and noticed they seem to have restocked the website. Perhaps Sprint is just leaving it alone for the time being and focusing on the Virgin relaunch and finding profitability.

      The original hook was you could buy a phone and airtime in-store and tie shopper loyalty/reward cards to the wireless account for credits toward service. (IMHO not worth it unless several adults share the same card number which isn't against card rules, which is how I usually have enough credits for "free" service.)

      Around here, our Kroger stores are Fred Meyer (Large department/variety store HQ'd in Portland so points are earned on everything from groceries to clothing to electronics) and QFC, so there might not be Kroger per se but the company is here. The fact I know what I know about Sprint buying a stake in i-Wireless means I know more than the store personnel. Nonetheless, I'm porting out when the service credit on the shopper card doesn't cover the $10 plan on the plan renewal date.

  7. Their plans however leave a lot to be desired. Running on Sprint is just the beginning, they are expensive for the amount of data they offer. $35/500MB $50/2GB $75/3GB. They need to update as soon as possible.

  8. Nice to see Tracfone making a headway with all the prepaid MVNO's and leading with 25 mil + customer base

    1. Don't worry, as soon as those customers get a taste of America Movil "customer dis-service" they will leave. I am confident that Movil brands will go back to the loosing hundreds of thousands of customers trend unless some drastic turn around happens re Movil "CS"

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