T-Mobile is winning the wireless wars, at a price

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T-Mobile was the winner in America’s wireless market during the first quarter of 2014. The mobile carrier had its best quarter in terms of customer additions in its history, and for the first time in at least a year, added more contract customers than its three bigger rivals.

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But it also lost more money than anyone else. (It booked a $154-million loss during the period, which was slightly deeper than Sprint’s quarterly loss; AT&T and Verizon both posted profits.)

T-Mobile has aggressively chased customers with cheap, simple plans and attractive offers to pay the early-termination fees of people switching across from other carriers before their contracts are up. The strategy is working insofar as the objective is winning customers, but it’s not yet helping the bottom line.

Investors don’t seem to mind, because shares in T-Mobile have soared by about 8% in pre-market trading. But that might also be because it looks like Sprint is finally preparing to proceed with an eagerly awaited bid for the company.