National carrier T-Mobile has been experiencing considerable subscriber growth and financial upswing in the last few years, and the company will reportedly be using that growth to kick off a $10 billion share buyback program this year. In doing this, the company would gain back a significant portion of control over decisions internally, and with less shares in the wild, it's quite possible that the ones that are still around after the buyback will increase in value. This is all set against a backdrop of roughly $13.5 billion in free cash flow generation between now and 2020, according to analysts with Barclays.
T-Mobile's guidance for 2018, according to the company itself, is somewhere between 2 and 3 million new subscribers. Recently, however, management reportedly said that the company will handily beat that estimate during the year ahead, and analyst firm Cowen is inclined to agree with that assertion. On top of managing its brand through Un-Carrier efforts and making massive improvements to its network, T-Mobile has been working to get into areas outside of the wireless industry, a move that could and likely will generate even more growth. One example of this trend is the carrier's acquisition of TV company Layer3 last year, followed by an announcement from CEO John Legere that the company sees the cable industry as ripe for disruption and plans to do so.
T-Mobile has spent recent years hyping up its public image with the Un-Carrier program, then using the money from new subscribers to enhance its network and services. This year is likely to mark a turning point for the company, with focus on bombast and image diminishing in the face of opportunities to expand its presence outside of mobile and take the fight to rivals within the mobile space. The 5G arms race is one of the most obvious and important chances that T-Mobile has to finally push ahead of larger competitors Verizon and AT&T, after brushing Sprint aside a while ago and taking the title of third largest carrier in the United States. Fixed 5G for businesses, low-band spectrum 5G with network virtualization and other assistive technologies for rural areas, and small cell deployments for urban hubs and IoT purposes are all vital fronts in the coming 5G competition, and all four major carriers in the United States are already beginning to gear up and lay the groundwork. If T-Mobile's current efforts bring it the kind of cash flow that analysts are predicting, it could have enough in its pockets to come out on top, with some strategic deployment and creative network enhancement alongside continued maintenance of the brand image and consumer mindshare.