Jonathan Atkin on the pending T-Metro marriage

Jonathan Atkin analyzes the wireless sector for RBC Capital Markets, LLC.

Better put, Jon dissects the wireless sector, looking at the players, numbers, and technologies in multiple contexts and from multiple angles spotting nuances leading to a much deeper and more complete worldview of wireless.

I have had the pleasure of hearing Jon present at several AGL regional conferences, and I always walk away from his presentations with a much keener view of the wireless industry and its direction(s).

Jon released a research report a few days ago on the pending T-Metro marriage that is well worth reading and understanding. He summarizes his research this way:

Our initial take is that a potential business combination between T-Mobile and MetroPCS is of dubious merit for Deutsche Telekom under business conditions and public-market valuations. We expect few regulatory barriers to such a deal, and believe Sprint could benefit competitively.

Jon points out that the proposed T-Metro intermarriage is one of different transmission technology religions. This rules out quick systems’ integrations and synergies as each partner will continue to practice its own signal transmission religion for for foreseeable future. He cites Sprint as a much more suitable marriage partner for MetroPCS given that both of them practice the same signal transmission technology religion. (Hey, it’s my metaphor…go with it.)

Not mentioned in Jon’s analysis is that with Sprint’s deployment of its Network Vision project, that firm will be in a much better position to rapidly deploy MetroPCS services from the new Network Vision sites. This would allow Sprint to shutter some/many MetroPCS sites quickly, substantially reducing site lease rental costs, especially at existing collocated Sprint/MetroPCS sites.

The funny thing is that a Sprint+MetroPCS marriage would be much more likely to succeed compared with the disastrous Sprint+Nextel marriage, which, like the pending T-Metro marriage, is based on each marriage partner practicing a different and incomparable signal transmission religion.

Jon notes that even if the T-Metro marriage is consummated, the new shared life of those partners will be distracting early on in their new union, opening the door for Sprint (and Leap Wireless) to push forward. My gut feeling is that a consummated marriage between T-Mobile+MetroPCS will prompt a Sprint+Leap marriage.

Read Jon’s report by clicking here: Hello, Hello, Hallo – Thoughts on Potential DT/PCS Tie-Up.



T-Mobile USA: Nearly 30 million customers

T-Mobile USA’s customer count increased by 951,000 during 4Q07. Of that number, 733,000 were new contract customers (as compared with pre-paid customers not on term contracts). T-Mobile ended the quarter and year with about 28.7 million subscribers. That followed a 3Q07 increase in subs of 857,000. The 4Q07 churn decreased to 1.8%.

Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile’s parent, served about 120 million subscribers worldwide at the end of 4Q07.

BELLEVUE, Wash.– (BUSINESS WIRE) — T-Mobile USA, Inc. (T-Mobile USA), the U.S. operation of Deutsche Telekom AGs (Deutsche Telekom (NYSE:DT)) Mobile Communications business, today announced fourth quarter and full year 2007 customer results.

T-Mobile continues to drive year-over-year growth by pioneering innovation that matters to consumers, said Robert Dotson, CEO and President, T-Mobile USA. In 2007, we increased growth to over 3.6 million net new customers. myFavesSM was a major contributor to this growth, with 5 million customers at year-end using the service to make unlimited calls to the people who matter most to them. Part of this growth was also fueled by the debut of FlexPaySM, a new option in the market that opens up access to more attractive offerings for certain classes of customers. In 2007, we also introduced our revolutionary HotSpot @HomeSM service to rave reviews for how were opening up new value alternatives for land line customers all while we add outstanding call quality improvements in homes across America.

In the fourth quarter of 2007, T-Mobile USA added 951,000 net new customers compared to 857,000 in the third quarter of 2007 and 901,000 in the fourth quarter of 2006. Net new contract customer additions amounted to 733,000 in the fourth quarter of 2007, or 77% of total net new customer additions, compared to 557,000 or 65% in the third quarter of 2007 and 783,000 or 87% in the fourth quarter of 2006. Contract churn was 1.8% in the fourth quarter of 2007, down from 2.0% in the third quarter of 2007 and 2.1% in the fourth quarter of 2006. Blended churn, including both contract and prepay customers, was 2.8% in the fourth quarter of 2007 and down from 2.9% in the third quarter of 2007 and fourth quarter of 2006.

T-Mobile USAs converged device offering was significantly strengthened during the year with the successful launch of a number of converged devices such as the T-Mobile Shadow; the T-Mobile Sidekick iD, LX, and Slide; T-Mobile Wing; and the BlackBerry Curve the first converged device enabled for the new HotSpot @Home service. The fourth quarter of 2007 saw a continued strong demand for these converged devices.

For the year ended December 31, 2007, T-Mobile USA added more than 3.6 million net new customers, compared to 3.4 million net new customers added in 2006. Net contract customer additions in 2007 amounted to 2.7 million, 74% of the total customer additions in the year down from 83% in 2006. Contract customers comprised 83% of T-Mobile USAs 28.7 million customer base at the end of 2007, compared to 84% in the third quarter of 2007 and 85% in the fourth quarter of 2006.

T-Mobile USA will release fourth quarter and full-year 2007 financial results on February 28, 2008.