CIRP is out today with new data on carrier activations and growth for Q1. Unsurprisingly, Verizon and AT&T took the top two spots for the most activations, but T-Mobile did gain more new customers than any other provider. Additionally, the report gives more details on why T-Mobile and Sprint have fired up merger discussions again.

For CIRP’s 2018 Q1 results, Verizon came in with 28% of US mobile phone activations, followed by AT&T in second place with 23% (down from 26% YoY).

T-Mobile came in slightly behind with 21% of activations, while Sprint trailed coming in at 16%. “Other” carriers took the remaining 12%.

At this point, the four major carriers are more or less just swapping customers between each other. CIRP notes that Sprint lost 24% of its existing customer during Q1, but gained the same amount from other carriers. AT&T and Verizon also saw just a 1% increase in customers after gains/losses. T-Mobile saw the most growth with an 8% jump.

CIRP co-founder, Josh Lowitz, explains why T-Mobile and Sprint don’t have much choice to gain more marketshare besides looking at a merger again.

Combined with slowing growth in the overall market, it makes sense that Sprint and T-Mobile would revive their merger discussions. Both T- Mobile and Sprint individually grew well for many quarters, using aggressive pricing and novel marketing. After taking share from AT&T and Verizon, and also each other, it looks like they need to find growth elsewhere. With current market saturation, neither T- Mobile nor Sprint can grow organically to unseat AT&T or Verizon for a top 2 position among US carriers.

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Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.