US Cellular posted net subscriber losses across both its pre- and post-paid segments, as it battled trade, environmental and competitive squalls in Q2.
Post-paid losses doubled year-on-year from a decline of 13,000 in Q2 2018 to 26,000 in the recent quarter. Prepaid net losses of 2,000 were down from 2,000 net additions the year prior.
On an earnings call, CEO Kenneth Meyers hinted the latter was related to the US trade ban on Huawei, citing “global issues” which constrained prepaid handset inventory and required it to change suppliers. Meyers said it took “a while to qualify new vendors and restock our channels”, but with that process now complete added he expects business to pick back up in the second half of the year.
He also discussed the impact of cable MVNOs on US Cellular’s post-paid business, noting low-cost bundled offers from “new entrants” wooed away subscribers in larger markets. However, Meyers said some of those customers are already returning: “It’s the old leave for price, come back for network.”
Flooding in the Midwest also impacted post-paid results, hindering foot traffic to US Cellular’s retail stores and ultimately resulting in fewer gross additions.
Meyers said the company remains focused on growing its customer base in 2019, with “aggressive plans and strategies in place to attract new customers in the second half of the year”.
Meanwhile, CTO Mike Irizarry said the operator’s network modernisation and 5G preparations continue, adding it plans to deploy VoLTE in its New England and Mid-Atlantic markets in the current quarter.
Revenue of $973 million in Q2 dipped slightly from $974 million, while net income attributable to US Cellular shareholders dropped from $49 million in Q2 2018 to $31 million.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back