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Unlike AT&T’s disdain for Leap customers, T-Mobile is taking care of MetroPCS subscribers

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If you want to see contrasting approaches to how major wireless carriers handle acquisitions, you needn’t look much further than how AT&T and T-Mobile are handling their respective purchases of Leap Wireless and MetroPCS. Both AT&T(s t) and T-Mobile(s tmus) are cannibalizing their acquisitions for valuable spectrum, of course, but T-Mobile actually seems to see some value in keeping Metro’s customers.

T-Mobile has already shut down Metro’s CDMA and LTE network in three cities — Las Vegas, Boston and Hartford, Conn. — but the carrier told FierceWireless it’s managed to keep 92 percent of the MetroPCS customers in those markets on its subscriber rolls. T-Mobile said it gave affected customers three months warning and replaced their CDMA devices for GSM/LTE equivalents at little or no cost. T-Mobile is now in the process of shutting down CDMA in Philadelphia, targeting a Sept. 30 sunset date.

The combined spectrum of T-Mobile and MetroPCS (source: Mosaik)
The combined spectrum of T-Mobile and MetroPCS (source: Mosaik)

Meanwhile AT&T hasn’t even begun shutting down Leap’s CDMA networks, but Leap’s Cricket Communications customers are already leaving in droves. In its second quarter earnings call, AT&T reported a net loss of 405,000 prepaid subscribers, most of them fleeing Cricket customers.

“Reported” is perhaps a bit of exaggeration, since on its call AT&T chose to focus on its “record-breaking” postpaid subscriber additions and churn rates. The loss of nearly one tenth of Leap’s subscriber base in just the first three months since its acquisition didn’t really seem to bother AT&T much at all.

AT&T hasn’t entirely left former Cricket customers hanging. It’s been offering them replacement GSM/LTE phones, but those devices just happen to be trade-in smartphones left over by customers in AT&T’s Next upgrade program. Nothing quite says “I value you” like a premium customer’s discarded handset.


T-Mobile won’t report its Q2 earnings for another week, so we’ll see if the recent MetroPCS network shutdowns ate into its subscriber growth. But so far it seems to be doing a better job managing its operational integration than AT&T. While prepaid gains for T-Mobile were flat in in first two quarters after the MetroPCS buy, T-Mobile went on a tear over the last six months, adding 465,000 net new prepaid customers in the first quarter alone.

5 Responses to “Unlike AT&T’s disdain for Leap customers, T-Mobile is taking care of MetroPCS subscribers”

  1. Reads like a T-Mobile marketing press release. The writer doesn’t even point out (or know?) that the Leap acquisition didn’t happen for almost a year after the MetroPCS deal closed.

  2. RBBrittain

    Only ONE source claims Cricket customers will get hand-me-down smartphones, with NO corroboration. I have a friend who just transitioned from old to new Cricket; they did NOT offer her any hand-me-downs.

    • Surge Man

      RBBrittain you said it right!And they won’t..AT&T is a greedy company,and always will be and it really wouldn’t be nothing if they did offer Cricket customers refurb phones..Asurion has warehouses full of these things for insurance purposes and fact being nobody really even claims them over time so they end up being liquidated out and then take losses…And another competitive with rates…Neither T-Mobile or AT&T has been with their take overs…and there is so many other 3rd parities still offering their very own service for way less…No business sense at all I see here…But go figure out of both…

  3. Michael

    Great for T-Mobile…however to market they have LTE in Cincinnati and don’t have LTE turned on is false advertising…and there is a huge difference in 4G and 4G LTE…huge !
    Stop the lying T Mobile or turn on the LTE.

  4. Drew J

    This article is so loaded against AT&T it’s laughable first off metro was bought almost 2 years ago so you can’t compare where tmo is at in the process of migrating customers compared to leap which has been under AT&T for all of about 90 days. Also I highly doubt most of those customers left because of it being purchased by AT&T. Leap was already bleeding customers badly and was consistently 60 days away from bankruptcy before the purchase.