T-Mobile "Un-carrier" programs fuel Q3 2013 expansion

T-Mobile increased its customer base in Q3 2013 by more than 1 million, the company announced in its earnings call. This marks the second consecutive quarter in which the mobile carrier has led the industry in customer acquisition. It sold 5.6 million smartphones in the quarter, 15% of which were iPhone sales, and smartphones made up 88% of the company's device sales revenue.

The company's aggressive data plan and device pricing are mostly to credit for T-Mobile's growth. Its "Simple Choice" plan comes with no annual contract, devices are flying out the doors on no-money-down installment plans, and the "JUMP!" program facilitates more frequent device upgrades. In October the company started selling tablets with free data plans; tablets come with 200 MB of free data per month. It began selling iPhones in all of its stores in April, and starting in November it will start selling the iPad Air and iPad mini for nothing down.

Network expansion was also key. Its 4G LTE networks in 233 metro areas covering 202 million people expanded to 254 metro areas for 203 million people. It bought 10 MHz of Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum from U.S. Cellular for $308 million; this covers additional 32 million people in 29 markets in the Mississippi Valley region. Branded third-party carriers like MetroPCS are also playing a major role; that brand will expand T-Mobile's penetration into another 15 markets by Nov. 21.

T-Mobile's "Un-carrier" set of programs aims to set the company apart. Its JUMP! program is intended to make it financially easier to get the latest and greatest in smartphone technology. Simple Choice data plans allow unlimited global data and texting in over 100 countries, and T-Mobile's industry-friendly third-party partnerships have allowed it to expand into places it otherwise couldn't.