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MoffettNathanson: T-Mobile should be a “Super-Regional Operator”

January 25, 2016 - Written By Alexander Maxham

One of the bad things – or not necessarily a good thing – about T-Mobile is their coverage. And T-Mobile knows this. If you’ve been a customer of T-Mobile for the last few years, then you definitely know this. Some areas you’ll lose coverage altogether while others have amazing coverage. T-Mobile has been working to rectify that in recent years, and their coverage has gotten much better. However, due to their coverage, and the operator only focusing on highly-populated areas, really, MoffettNathanson Research believes that the company should be considered a “Super-Regional Operator”. And it does make plenty of sense, not just from their coverage but also their retail stores.

T-Mobile’s retail stores are few and far between. With the carrier operating the least amount of stores of any other national wireless carrier. And by a large margin. The number of stores that T-Mobile operates also includes MetroPCS stores. However, when it comes to customer additions, T-Mobile is ahead of the competition. In 2015 the Magenta carrier added about 3,000 new customers per store. While Verizon was at 2,600 per store and Sprint at 1,600. Meaning there is plenty of room there for growth.

The company has been focusing more on deploying their 700MHz spectrum which they bought from Verizon and a slew of other regional carriers in the country. This 700MHz spectrum or band 12 is very important for T-Mobile as it is the only spectrum they have that is low-band. This is where their coverage problems are, for the most part. Lower band spectrum is better for coverage because it can cover a wider area as well as penetrate the building walls. Important things for those that work inside all day long, as most of us do.

With the addition of coverage, MoffettNathanson believes that their retail footprint will expand as their coverage does. And with the upcoming 600MHz Incentive Auction coming soon, that will give T-Mobile another leg up over the competition. In this day and age, retail stores are being used less and less for actually making sales. As many customers are buying their smartphones online – and sometimes not even from the carrier. While it will be great to have more T-Mobile retail stores around, we may not need as many in the next few years.