T-Mobile USA added a substantial number of subscribers in the first quarter, making it the standout of its parent company's financial results...

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T-Mobile USA added a substantial number of subscribers in the first quarter, making it the standout of its parent company’s financial results yesterday.

Still, the Bellevue-based company, owned by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, added far fewer subscribers than its biggest U.S. competitors and at a rate slower than its recent past.

In the first quarter, T-Mobile USA added 957,000 subscribers for a total of 18.3 million. That was fewer than it added in the previous quarter and in the year-ago periods when it added more than a million subscribers each.

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T-Mobile USA’s biggest competitors Cingular Wireless, Verizon Wireless and Sprint PCS each easily added more than a million subscribers. Nextel Communications, which plans to merge with Sprint PCS later this year, was the only national carrier that added fewer subscribers than T-Mobile USA.

The carrier’s financials were a highlight in Deutsche Telekom’s overall results. T-Mobile USA recorded revenue of $3.44 billion, making it the largest division in Deutsche Telekom’s mobile unit. Sales for the year-ago period totaled $2.6 billion.

It had a profit of $103 million, compared with a loss of $157 million a year ago.

Robert Dotson, T-Mobile USA’s president and chief executive, said in a release that these improvements were possible because of the company’s attention to adding and retaining subscribers.

“Not only have we grown our customer base to over 18 million customers, we have seen gains in customer loyalty, resulting in a significant reduction in churn during the quarter,” he said.

Churn, or customer turnover, was 2.3 percent of total subscribers, improving from 2.6 percent in both the previous and year-ago quarters. The company said it accomplished this by focusing on customer service and increasing the discount it assigns to handsets purchased by existing customers.

Last week, T-Mobile USA topped J.D. Power & Associates rankings of carriers in overall customer satisfaction among wireless voice and data service business customers.

Tricia Duryee: 206-464-3283 or tduryee@seattletimes.com