Prepaid boosted T-Mobile customers last quarter, but 500K iPhones sold speaks to the future

T-Mobile(s tmus) added 202,000 prepaid customers last quarter, helping to offset the 199,000 subscribers it lost. Sales of 500,000 Apple(s aapl) iPhones, however, speaks volumes towards the carrier’s future, which is looking a little brighter after its recent marriage to MetroPCS.¬†The company announced subscriber numbers on Wednesday, in conjunction with its quarterly earnings. For the quarter, total revenues topped $4.67 billion, down 7.1 percent from the year ago quarter.

Although the branded net customer additions numbered only 3,000, it was the first time that figure was positive since the first quarter of 2009. Customers on the network only tell half of the story though: Measuring monetization of customers through ARPU, or average revenue per user, is just as important.

ARPU fell by 6.3 percent year-over-year to $54.07 for postpaid subscribers as the company says 36 percent of the customer base has switched to either a Value or Simple Choice plan.¬†Once again, however, prepaid customers came to T-Mobile’s rescue: ARPU for this group rose 11.3 percent to $28.25.

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T-Mobile sold approximately 500,000 iPhones in just under a month; Sprint, Verizon and AT&T monthly numbers were found by dividing Q1 iPhone sales by three.

In March, T-Mobile introduced the Simple Choice offerings when it decoupled service plans from the price of hardware. As the company gains new customers — or has existing ones switch to newer phones — it will have an even greater number of people on the Simple Choice plans, which range from $50 to $70 per month.

The company highlighted its $1.1 billion capital expenditures for the quarter, investing large sums in network modernization. T-Mobile began to move some services to different frequencies last year on its network in order to pave the way for LTE services. This also allows T-Mobile to carry a standard GSM iPhone, which will likely bring new customers. By the end of 2013, T-Mobile expects to cover up to 200 million people with its new LTE network.