T-Mobile warns of rocky 4th quarter

As the only major carrier without an iPhone offering and one that is exceedingly muddled due to the AT&T buyout uncertainty, T-Mobile has a rough road ahead.

Such was the sentiment of T-Mobile CEO Philipp Humm following the company’s quarterly earnings report.

In the third quarter, the carrier managed to hold its own. It added a net of 126,000 customers, although that was thanks to a surge in prepaid phone sales.

When it comes to contracts, T-Mobile actually lost 186,000 customers. So essentially the company is losing high-value customers but gaining a lot more low-value customers.

As a result, T-Mobile is holding steady for now. It showed a profit of $332 million, believe it or not an increase of 4% over last year. But, Humm warns, the negative factors playing against the company will only grow in the future.

For most of the third quarter, only AT&T and Verizon offered the iPhone, but now Sprint is on board and the fourth quarter will no doubt have a huge amount of iPhone 4S sales – a fact that everyone will get to take advantage of except for T-Mobile.

So T-Mobile is shifting its focus to being a carrier that appeals to budget-conscious consumers. The company has been advertising its “best plan ever,” a cheap, ‘unlimited’ plan that makes it a better deal for non-data-intensive users than what the other carriers offer.

T-Mobile continues to be in limbo while the AT&T deal faces enhanced scrutiny. Both companies hope to have the entire issue settled by the middle of next year.