EE’s LTE connections nearly quadrupled in 2014

It looks as if 2014 was the year that 4G found its stride in the U.K. Everything Everywhere, the first carrier to offer LTE in the U.K., grew its 4G customer base from 2 million connections last January to 7.7 million at the end of 2014. EE now claims to have more 4G customers than any operator in Europe.

[company]EE[/company]’s network now covers 510 cities and towns with a population of 10,000 or more and reaches eight of every 10 people in the country. By the end of 2015, EE expects its 4G signals to cover 98 percent of the U.K.’s population. [company]O2[/company], [company]Vodafone[/company] and [company]Three[/company] have also launched 4G services in the U.K., though EE remains the market leader with double the subscribers of its nearest competitor O2.

The carrier, which combines the U.K. mobile businesses of [company]Deutsche Telekom[/company] and [company]Orange[/company], has been expanding the capacity of its network as well as its reach. Last fall, it launch an upgraded service in London supporting theoretical speeds of 300 Mbps, and using the latest LTE-Advanced techniques it has begun trials of a network capable of surpassing the 400 Mbps barrier.

Sprint is growing again, adding 1M new connections

T-Mobile tried valiantly but it didn’t overtake Sprint as No. 3 U.S. mobile carrier in 2014. Sprint actually had a great holiday season, adding 967,000 net new mobile subscriptions to its network in its fiscal third quarter ending December 31.

Like [company]T-Mobile[/company], [company]Sprint[/company] reported its subscriber numbers ahead of its official earnings next month, and the new growth should put Sprint at 56 million total connections, 1 million more than T-Mobile. Sprint actually began its turnaround over the summer when Marcelo Claure took over from ousted CEO Dan Hesse. Claure launched a series of plan changes, new programs and discounts designed to make Sprint competitive again, including its most recent “cut your bill in half” promotion.

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In Sprint’s fiscal Q2, Sprint added 464,000 net new subscriptions, but all of that growth came from wholesale connections from its mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) customers. Those customers bring a fraction of the revenue of a full retail subscriber on a Sprint plan.

In the most recent quarter, wholesale was still a big driver, accounting for half of new connections, but Sprint saw growth across the board, including 30,000 net new postpaid customers. That’s not a huge number, but considering Sprint has been shedding these valuable postpaid customers for years, any growth in the segment is a positive. Sprint also added 410,000 new prepaid customers on its Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile brands.

T-Mobile grew by 8.3M subscribers in 2014

T-Mobile’s customer growth spurt continued into the normally busy holiday season in 2014 as it added 2.1 million new connections to its ranks. It wasn’t T-Mobile’s best quarter of the year for subscriber growth – that would be its blockbuster Q1 – but it was a good way to cap off a very successful year.

Off the back of its evolving Uncarrier strategy, T-Mobile recruited 8.3 million net new subscribers to its ranks, the carrier revealed Wednesday ahead of its official earnings next announcement next month. In a single year T-Mobile grew its customer base by 18 percent, giving it a connection total of 55 million. At the end of Q3, Sprint had 55 million subscribers as well, so if Sprint continued its customer loss streak in Q4, T-Mobile will have assumed the mantle of the country’s third largest carrier.

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T-Mobile’s gains weren’t all due to Uncarrier, though. It added 1.3 million net new postpaid customers and 266,000 net new prepaid subscribers in the quarter, but the remaining 586,000 links were comprised of wholesale connections from mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) like Ultra Mobile, Straight Talk and Target’s Brightspot, as well as from machine to machine connections linking the internet of things. Sprint used to be king of MVNOs, but T-Mobile has become much more aggressive in attracting virtual operator customers as of late.