Both AT&T and T-Mobile lowered their subscriber gap with Verizon over the course of the first quarter of the year, albeit the rift between the second- and third-largest wireless carrier in the country continued increasing during the same period, with AT&T still being the fastest-growing telecom giant by additions. According to data from Strategy Analytics, Verizon added over a million subscribers in the first three months of 2018, with T-Mobile beating it by some 400,000 additions. AT&T grew its network by more than 2.6 million users and Sprint's business shrunk by some 19,000 customers during those 90 days.
T-Mobile remains a leader in the postpaid smartphone segment, having added 760,000 such devices to its network over the first quarter, around 300,000 more than what the rest of the seven largest wireless carriers in the country managed combined. Strong postpaid performance is one of the main reasons why analysts remain optimistic about T-Mobile's prospects seeing how such plans are generally viewed as more lucrative than prepaid ones, i.e. postpaid customers usually spend more and are more loyal. The trend is hence contributing to T-Mobile's churn rate which amounted to 2.22-percent, 0.07 percentage points down sequentially, albeit the figure is still considered relatively high. Both Verizon and AT&T's churn rates are well below the two-percent mark, with Verizon's one amounting to only 1.28-percent over the observed period, a marginal increase compared to its Q4 2017 performance.
The latest figures underline how a merger would place Sprint and T-Mobile within striking distance of AT&T, putting the duo some 15 million subscribers behind the Dallas, Texas-based company. The difference is around four million users smaller than how much T-Mobile was behind Sprint when John Legere took over the company in September of 2012, having managed to capitalize on its stagnation and surpass it within three years. T-Mobile and Sprint will file their official merger paperwork later this month and are hoping to see the deal approved by stateside regulators in the first half of 2019, though antitrust concerns attached to the proposal prompted most analysts to give the merger a 50-50 chance of being greenlit without major concessions.