Sprint Adding More Subscribers, But Still Struggling

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Sprint’s latest earnings suggests the company is having mixed results in its attempt to turn the struggling ship around. Sprint’s been in a tough spot for a few years now with T-Mobile getting all the glory for its (mostly) pro-consumer behavior, and leapfrogging Sprint to become the nation’s third biggest wireless player. But as Sprint looks to cut $2.5 billion in operational costs via layoffs and other measures, there’s at least a few indications that Sprint’s slowing and slightly reversing customer defections.

“Fiscal fourth quarter postpaid phone net additions of 22,000 are the third consecutive quarter of positive net additions and more than both Verizon and AT&T for the first time on record,” the company says in a statement.

That’s in part thanks to the fact that AT&T and Verizon are losing a lot of these valuable postpaid subscribers to T-Mobile. T-Mobile added 877,000 branded postpaid subscribers last quarter, compared to a net loss of 363,000 postpaid phone subscribers for AT&T, and an 8,000 postpaid phone subscriber loss for Verizon. In that company, a 22,000 net gain looks notably better than it actually is.

Overall, Sprint added a total of 447,000 wireless subscribers on the quarter.

The problem is that to gain those subscribers Sprint engaged heavily in promotional deals, which chipped away at company revenues. Sprint’s operating revenue dipped to $8.07 billion in the fourth quarter ending March 31 from $8.28 billion a year earlier. Sprint’s net loss also widened to $554 million, or 14 cents per share, from $224 million one year earlier.

The company continues to promise that it’s working hard to shore up network performance and coverage gaps, noting that the company’s “LTE Plus” upgrades are now available in 204 markets across the country.

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