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Majority of net new subscribers were prepaid in Q4 2009

The results from the fourth quarter of 2009 are in, and we’ve gone over the available numbers for prepaid carriers. They didn’t seem absurdly high, and in fact a few carriers missed their estimates. Even so, prepaid adds accounted for 65 percent of net new adds industry-wide in the fourth quarter, according to IDC. Then again, with Sprint losing customers and T-Mobile adding more prepaid subscribers than postpaid, this comes as less of a surprise. It appears that the efforts of carriers like MetroPCS, Cricket, and Boost Mobile paid off. We also found out some less reported statistics regarding total subscribers for the major prepaid carriers.

Here’s the breakdown, according to IDC. Note that Boost’s numbers include Virgin Mobile, which became part of Sprint in the fourth quarter.


Carrier Total Subs
Tracfone 14.4m
Boost 10.6m
T-Mobile 7m
MetroPCS 6.6m
Cricket 4.9m
Verizon 5.4m
AT&T 5.4m

A combined MetroPCS/Cricket outfit, then, would boast 11.5 million customers, shooting them past Boost. And, again, they’d have the potential for even more subscribers with a more contiguous network.

Also, IDC notes that while Verizon and AT&T ended the year with roughly the same number of prepaid subscribers, Verizon is trending up, having added 500,000 subscribers in 2009, while AT&T is trending downward, having lost 800,000.

This is definitely something to look for in April when we start seeing Q1 2010 results. Will prepaid’s share of the total market grow? Or will Sprint rally and change the paradigm?

3 Responses

  1. mike freeman Says

    Sprint is going to continue its haphazard mix of brilliant desperation and general directionless on the postpaid front, WHERE IT REALLY COUNTS for them.

    The prepaid side is pulling in people but Sprint Postpaid’s screwups will flatten any such advantage to a zero sum game.

    Tracfone will continue as the King of Prepaid.

    Tracfone will get stronger and Sprint will get weaker.

    Sprint isn’t doing SQUAT with the nearly 5 million Virgin Mobile users and VM is rapidly losing relevance to their own Boost iden/cdma twin sisters’ brand. Sprint’s annoucement of at least one other NEW prepaid division by possibly summer time and maybe even TWO more divisions is going to create a marketing identity mess.

    Sprint splashing “On the SPRINT nationwide network” all over their Boost cdma ads is SUICIDE. It effectively cannibalizes their postpaid advantages.

    Though Byod on Boost cdma is not yet widely known, it will be a growing factor in the cannibalization of Sprint postpaid by Bmcdma.

    The only thing holding Sprint back from success is Sprint itself really.


    Posted on March 17th, 2010 at 5:01 am
  2. ducky Says

    - Boost Mobile 2009 added 2.5+ Million subs

    - Thus far (2010) Boost Mobile is completely selling out the Incognito model phone.

    - Tracfone’s ARPU is well below $10 incase anyone hasn’t read up on those types of metrics before.

    - HTC Supersonic
    - HTC Nexus One

    Sprint’s numbers Prepaid and Postpaid have been trending up. THE most important metric of all; continued growth.


    Posted on March 17th, 2010 at 10:51 pm
  3. More growth numbers for prepaid | Prepaid Reviews Says

    [...] If you're new to the site, you may want to subscribe to the the feed.Last week we saw a report that 65 percent of new net wireless adds in the fourth quarter were prepaid. Even better, we got some overall subscriber numbers for the [...]


    Posted on April 1st, 2010 at 8:48 am

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