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Tracfone adds nearly half a million subscribers in Q4

A half a million subscribers might sound like a lot for an MVNO, but not for America Movil, parent company of Tracfone, Net10, and Straight Talk. They added 493,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2011, after adding 1.1 million subscribers in the same period in 2010. While the first and fourth quarters are typically better for wireless carriers than the second and third quarters, America Movil actually added more customers in Q3 2011, 515,000, than they did in Q4. Still, as a whole they did pretty well in 2011.

Movil added about 2 million customers during the course of 2011, a big number for an MVNO. They ended the year with just under 20 million subscribers, which technically makes them America’s No. 5 wireless carrier. Typically MetroPCS gets that title, because they operate their own network. Regardless, they do not have quite so many subscribers as America Movil’s three services. Movil also saw a jump in average revenue per user, up $2 in 2011. That is, those 2 million customers were that much more valuable.

Things could be looking up, too. One reason why Straight Talk, Net10, and Tracfone didn’t add quite as many subscribers in Q4 is that people were clamoring for smartphones. With the iPhone 4S and a number of new Android handsets selling big, Movil’s line of older, more cost-effective smartphones could have fallen flat. They are adding a number of Android phones in the future, including, reportedly, a high-end model that will run on HSPA+ from T-Mobile. This could be a big addition for them, and could make them more relevant in the smartphone game. That bodes well for a big 2012.

Via FierceWireless.