T-Mobile gains 1 million phone customers in fourth quarter

FILE PHOTO: A sign advertising T-Mobile is shown in Los Angeles, California, U.S. October 19,2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

NEW YORK (Reuters) - T-Mobile US TMUS.O said on Tuesday it gained 1 million net new postpaid subscribers in during the fourth quarter, unchanged from last year.

Investors track the number of postpaid subscribers, or people who pay a recurring monthly bill, because they stick with the carrier longer and tend to be more profitable than customers who pre-pay for service.

Cowen analysts expected 904,000 T-Mobile postpaid phone adds, highlighting a small win for the wireless carrier.

T-Mobile is working to close its $26.5 billion merger with Sprint. Last month, testimony ended in a lawsuit by various state attorneys general aimed at blocking the merger. The Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission have pushed for the deal to go through here.

Closing arguments for the trial are set for Jan. 15.

The U.S. phone carrier also noted that postpaid phone churn, or the rate of customer cancellations, was 1.01% during the fourth quarter, in line with Instinet analysts estimates of 0.9%.

T-Mobile’s main focus for the fourth quarter has been launching its 5G network, which the company said now covers more than 200 million people.

T-Mobile shares were up 1% at $79.40 in late morning trading.

Reporting by Arriana McLymore; Editing by Steve Orlofsky