T-Mobile Snatches No. 3 Spot Among Top Cell Carriers

But the race is far from over. Its closest rival still trumps T-Mobile in an influential performance rating.

In a neck-and-neck race, T-Mobile finally surged past Sprint to become the third-largest wireless carrier in the nation.

According to Re/code, 675,000 new customers signed up with Sprint last quarter, but T-Mobile gained more than 2 million customers, putting it at 58.9 million total customers compared with Sprint’s 57.7 million customers. Verizon Wireless and AT&T hold the top two spots.

The heated competition between T-Mobile and Sprint has been made public by the two rival CEOs on social media sites like Twitter, USA Today reports.

Earlier this month, [T-Mobile CEO John] Legere and [Sprint CEO Marcelo] Claure went head-to-head over Sprint’s new “All-In” plan, which promises a smartphone and unlimited talk, text and data for $80 a month. When Legere, who is known to pick fights with competitors, criticized the plan, Claure fought back on Twitter.

“I am so tired of your Uncarrier bulls**t when you are worse than the other two carriers together,” Claure tweeted.

T-Mobile surpassing Sprint to take over the No. 3 wireless carrier spot is likely to worsen the relationship between the two companies, John Jackson, mobile analyst with research firm IDC, told USA Today.

“You can expect (T-Mobile) will make every ounce of hay out of this that is available to them,” Jackson said. “It almost has a psychological significance that trumps the practical significance.”

But so far, the discussion between Legere and Claure has been civil, friendly even.

The Kansas City Star reported this recent Twitter exchange between the rival CEOs:

“Now that it’s official, how about we focus on why @TMobile is succeeding? Hint: Listening to customers!!” Legere tweeted.

Claure responded with a tweet of his own: “@TMobile deserve credit. Much respect. Now focused on customers not rankings. Congrats.”

Claure, who has been CEO since August 2014, is working on a five-point turnaround plan for Sprint that has the wireless carrier returning to growth and profits in two to four years, the Star said.

From a consumer perspective, does it matter if T-Mobile surpassed Sprint based on its total customer numbers? Probably not.

According to mobile analytics firm RootMetrics, this is what matters to consumers when selecting a wireless carrier: overall performance, network speeds, network reliability, data performance, call performance and text performance.

RootMetrics uses those categories to gather data for its U.S. mobile network performance reviews. This is how the most recent performance review, released in February, ranked the four wireless carriers (based on overall scores):

  1. Verizon.
  2. AT&T.
  3. Sprint.
  4. T-Mobile.

Check out “The Best and Worst Cities for Wireless Network Performance.”

Which wireless carrier do you use? Are you happy with your service? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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