T-Mobile International says it ended 2004 with a global subscriber base of 69.2 million, having added 8.1 million new users during the course of the year. On the downside, however, almost half the group’s growth was attributed to its US operation T-Mobile USA, which contributed 4.186 million new customers in the year, 1.019 million of which were added in the fourth quarter alone. T-Mobile is spending heavily on ramping up its position in the US market where growth potential is stronger than in Europe and where, on average, subscribers spend around 175% as much as their European counterparts. By the end of 2004 T-Mobile USA was the fourth largest US operator with 17.3 million users. T-Mobile also reported strong gains in the UK, with the total customer base – including Virgin mobile customers – increasing by 15% to 15.7 million, making T-Mobile the largest UK network by customer numbers. 519,000 net customers were added in the fourth quarter.
By contrast, in Germany T-Mobile struggled to add 1.1 million new users during the course of the year, ending 2004 with 27.5 million customers. The cellco was quick to point out though that while growth was slow – and failed to match that of rivals Vodafone and E-Plus – it had concentrated its efforts on quality customers, and 923,000 of the net gains were for contract accounts. T-Mobile’s loss of market share in Germany is in part a result of it cutting the amount of money it is spending on advertising to win new customers in a saturated market. In the key fourth quarter it signed up just 113,000 subscribers compared to rivals mmO2 (729,000 in its fiscal third quarter), Vodafone (843,000) and E-Plus (440,000).