Since retiring the Sprint brand this month, T-Mobile now has the most retail stores of any postpaid carrier, beating AT&T by more than 2,000 stores based on Wave7 Research counts.
T-Mobile now has more than 7,500 retail stores. By Wave7 estimates, T-Mobile also has hundreds of more stores than Verizon, which previously had the largest postpaid retail footprint.
In addition, the new T-Mobile had 98.3 million customers, overtaking AT&T, which reported 92.9 million postpaid and prepaid customers as of Q2.
The Metro by T-Mobile prepaid brand also has a larger retail store presence than AT&T’s Cricket Wireless and Boost Mobile, Moore noted, making T-Mobile tops for both prepaid and postpaid wireless stores. Dish recently acquired Boost as part of merger-related conditions.
Still, the new T-Mobile is certainly consolidating stores and shedding redundant locations as it integrates Sprint operations. Wave7 estimates that the number of T-Mobile postpaid stores is down about 15% from the 8,800 combined T-Mobile and Sprint stores that were operating in late 2019. Of those about 5,000 were T-Mobile-branded and 3,800 were Sprint. Wave7 provides detailed counts in its postpaid competition report.
Wave7’s postpaid competition report for August said that while T-Mobile currently has the most store locations, the operator has much less exposure to sales through national retail stores compared to competitors. However, carrier stores historically are where the lion’s share of wireless sales happen, and that practice doesn’t seem to have changed drastically yet.
Overall, Wave7 is seeing “a transitional ‘Sprint now part of T-Mobile’ brand at Walmart and Best Buy, which seems to presage a launch of T-Mobile sales at the two top national retailers,” Moore noted. “Also, T-Mobile is now being sold at substantially all Costco stores, versus previously being sold at most Costco stores, but not all.”
Even though Sprint is no more, the brand is surviving in some places, including via mid-Atlantic Sprint affiliate Shenandoah Telecommunications (Shentel). Dozens of stores in Shentel markets continue to operate under the Sprint brand. Shentel has been a Sprint affiliate since 1995, and says it has around 1 million postpaid subscribers. The company also provides wireline and cable services, operating in western rural Virginia, West Virginia, and portions of Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Negotiations started in April with T-Mobile, which has the option to buy Shentel’s wireless business or enter into a different arrangement, but no deal has been made yet.
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