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Sprint subscriber defections slow in 4th quarter

Posted: , by Alan F.

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Sprint subscriber defections slow in 4th quarter
Thanks to customers signing up for the prepaid Boost Mobile service, Sprint was able to limit the number of net defections in the fourth quarter to 148,000 subscribers. That is a major improvement from the 545,000 customers that left the carrier on a net basis in the third period. the nation's third largest carrier lost $980 million in the three months vs. a loss of $1.62 billion in the year ago quarter.

Sprint's prepaid service like Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile added 435,000 customer for the quarter. The Sprint branded service increased the amount of customers by 3,000 which CEO Dan Hesse says came from improvements in customer service.The Nextel part of the equation was where the loss of subscribers came from in the period and Nextel customers continue to flee. Despite the gains in prepaid, some analysts were underwhelmed and disappointed by the results, saying that MetroPCS, Leap Wireless and even Verizon's $45 unlimited plan on its Straight Talk brand are taking customers from the pin-dropping network. And while helping the raw numbers, prepaid service accounts don't necessarily help the bottom line. Sprint gets roughly $31 monthly for each prepaid customer while grabbing $55 monthly from contract accounts. And with Verizon recently picking up the two webOS devices that had been exclusive to Sprint, and improving the specs on both, Sprint at this point really doesn't have a claim on any "must-have" handsets that have been sending customers to Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. The latter carrier, currently trailing Sprint in size, will soon be offering one of those "must-have" handsets, the HTC HD2.

For the full year, Sprint loss $2.4 billion vs. the prior year's $2.8 billion red inked total. the company ended 2009 with 48.1 million subscribers, down from the 49.3 million they had at the end of the prior year, and a bit more than half of the 91 million subscribers that belong to market leader Verizon Wireless.

source: YahooFinance

14 Comments
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posted on 20 Oct 2010, 01:45

1. phone333 (Posts: 331; Member since: 04 Feb 2009)


Sprint's best next move imo : Roll out 4G all over the place... the reset will automatically follow

posted on 10 Feb 2010, 15:01

2. JeffdaBeat (unregistered)


I think at this point, Sprint is finished fighting the bad customer service and bad network stigma. Right now, the reason people don't go with Sprint over the other carriers probably has to do with phones. As PhoneArena said, every other network has a must have phone and Sprint doesn't have a phone that you couldn't get anywhere else. Although I am glad their customers have stopped the mass exodus, I thought Sprint would have stopped losing customers by now.

posted on 10 Feb 2010, 17:27

6. austan (Posts: 7; Member since: 07 Jan 2010)


I think sprint is still fighting the bad customer service stigma... they have improved a ton but they burned sooo many people.

posted on 10 Feb 2010, 20:25

10. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


like it said in the article, the big anchor on sprint is Nextel. The biggest bleeding still comes from that side of the company. They need to just shut down nextel and force everyone onto sprint completely, the way they forced everyone off analogue phones on VZW a few years back. "sorry, this network will stop working on X.XX.XXX and here is a free upgrade to a compatable phone. have a nice day" they still havent fixed their customer service/billing issues, as i still get a dozen people a month complaining about crazy ass bills, unexplainable charges and on and on. 4g needs money to get up and running.. money they arent making. Your right, it needs to go up now if not yesterday..

posted on 10 Feb 2010, 15:26

3. jrcrow79 (Posts: 477; Member since: 02 May 2008)


sprint has nothing my friend would want..for now..unless N1 shows up..then he will consider

posted on 10 Feb 2010, 15:34

4. rwolf1984 (Posts: 518; Member since: 06 Jun 2009)


Note to Dan Hesse: Pre-Paid is less profitable than postpaid...lol. These numbers are skewed because they purchased Virgin Mobile and another smaller carrier this past year. For a real glimpse of Sprint's true performance compare contract subscribers separately. Sprint is not mitigating their issues...they're going to need a lot of pre-paid subscribers to become profitable again! Dan Hesse's "4G" are like a coma patient on life support and at $3.27 a share they are only a Mcdouble, small fry, and a small drink from flat-lining...4G?More like 4Dollar Stock, 4Close Sprint is Ready to die Now. Sprint the "Sanyo Network" is comprised mostly of phones that I see sold in my local grocery store. Sprint is relying on pre-paid "profits" to get the company from the red to black. Losing 10 million of those $55/month customers and replacing them with a million of $31/month customers is a horrible recovery plan. Making up for years of those 2 billion deficits is going to be very difficult. Most of the customers it gained were those purchased in the acquisition of Virgin Mobile. Sprint cannot keep up its own network, cannot expand 3G coverage (its slow data roaming half the time on Verizon), and it cannot attract handsets people want to its brand. To think that this company's stock was trading at $75/share in late 1999, $25 a share back in 2005 to now averaging around 3 bucks is amazing. Consumers have spoken that Sprint does not offer a product and a service worth it. Gordon Gekko and the rest of Wall street know Sprint is trash and it will continue to have losses annually and its stock will continue to float under $4 bucks. Its a bad financial investment and a bad investment for its potential customers!

posted on 10 Feb 2010, 17:07

5. ibap (Posts: 681; Member since: 09 Sep 2009)


Oh give it a rest. Sprint's biggest problem is still their people. We left Verizon over a specific coverage issue - the school our daughter attends. No Verizon coverage there at all inside. Outside marginal, and with all the stuff she stays for, it was a pain. Options were Tmob and Sprint. Tmob's coverage in our area is spotty at best and a total zero at our house. ATT is a total zero at the school. We found later that Alltel's coverage at the school was OK - so how is that? No Verizon and Alltel works? Anyway, our Sprint service has been just fine, actually better than VZW in many places, employees at one store helped resolve a rebate issue more than admirably, but another store - well, let's say I'm NOT going back to that one, which happens to be the nearest to our home. Sprint has also done fine when we've traveled. Yes, they need to fix their phone selection, but honestly, over the time we had Verizon there wasn't that much there that I craved. It is only in the last 6 months that they've had a slew of good stuff. So it remains to be seen what happens with Sprint. But for now - they're doing absolutely fine for us, and a lot of others that we know.

posted on 10 Feb 2010, 17:58

7. austan (Posts: 7; Member since: 07 Jan 2010)


I always find it odd when I am in a sprint store and hear the reps talking badly about most of the smartphones. It really does not send a good message to the customers in the store.

posted on 10 Feb 2010, 19:28

8. rwolf1984 (Posts: 518; Member since: 06 Jun 2009)


ibap...the Alltel tower could be a tower that is not shared. Due to anti-trust laws Alltel in some areas is staying Alltel...Coverage does vary by carrier by region and then device does make a diffrence...

posted on 10 Feb 2010, 19:31

9. rwolf1984 (Posts: 518; Member since: 06 Jun 2009)


ibap is a Sprint "Good News" troller! lol

posted on 10 Feb 2010, 21:23

11. lsutigers (Posts: 696; Member since: 08 Mar 2009)


rwolf1984 is a bad news Sprint basher. Sprint's coverage and data speeds are great, their customer service has improved by leaps and bounds. As mentioned by others, they need exclusive/better phone selection and to work on better advertising/marketing. They do advertise, a lot actually, NFL, Nascar, other populat TV shows, they just need to do a better job at selling the power and speed and coverage of their network.

posted on 11 Feb 2010, 10:43

12. rwolf1984 (Posts: 518; Member since: 06 Jun 2009)


Everything I said in my analysis of Sprint is true. bad news or not. Sprint is in still in trouble. Customer service isn't an issue, but it might be difficult for those hurt it to return to Sprint. Its not good once your reputation is tarnished its hard to repair it. Sprint needs to improve its network (they roam off Verizon to fill in their map). The launch of 4G this past year is great. Financially they are a mess they can cut costs, add more $55/month subscribers and stop the bleeding. Consumers will benefit from a stronger Sprint. Compelling handsets, launch phones like blackberries sooner, and better more entertaining ads. The more Sprint and T-Mobile can compete with Verizon and AT&T the more competitive the pricing will get and everyone benefits from a smaller bill.

posted on 11 Feb 2010, 13:30

13. bigdog805 (Posts: 20; Member since: 06 Jun 2009)


rwolf1984 you are nothing but a hater. I have seen you in a lot of forums just bashing and using a lot of information that isn't even true. Sprint does not have a problem with their 3g data speed. And to say Sprint needs to work on our network instead of using verizon to fill in our map is just stupid. It is very common to have roaming agreements with other companies. Verizon uses our network to fill in their map too. And not all towers are even owned by the cell phone companies themselves. Private companies will purchase/make cell towers and then lease them out to the providers for profit. I agree sprint needs more "must have" devices but give me a break about saying their network isnt good. Stick to forums you have knowledge on like Twilight.

posted on 11 Feb 2010, 20:40

14. rwolf1984 (Posts: 518; Member since: 06 Jun 2009)


lilpuppy805...FYI, I actually complemented Sprint today on partnering with the company to get 60,000 free apps. SPRINT owes their customers for putting up with their inferior service. I give credit when credit is due. Financially, speaking Sprint is a mess and Hesse is not effectively leading Sprint in the right direction.This is a fact. It's true look @ the stock. Moody cut their credit rating again from Ba2 to Ba1...it's gonna get cut again. Why? Because Sprint has too much debt, they lack POSTPAID growth...PRE-PAID doesnt pay the bills. http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/moodys-cuts-sprints-credit-rating/2009-11-23 Improving the customer service is great, but the damage has been done. I never said they have problems with their data speeds. They have problem with their data coverage. Compare the Maps. VZW only allows 1X roaming on its shared resources, 1X is a slower data speed. They need to expand EV-DO (aka 3G CDMA) or fire up 4G. In my part of the country I have never seen a Verizon phone on roaming and I am not by any means denying that its possible. Different phones in different parts of the country have different results. Sprint needs handsets and they need to get exclusives and get blackberries much closer to the same time VZW gets them. It took them forever to get the 8300 and then the 8500 dropped. They're now the only carrier with out a MotoBlur handset. Its all about re-branding. I also think the ads where they rattle off statistics are now ineffective. They need more compelling advertising I think people get lost in all the information about how many people are sending email on vacation or whatever. I would also like to see Sprint stop selling the cheap Sanyo phones that I see sold in the grocery store, how embarrassing. Put those on Boost and clear them out!! "Verizon uses OUR network" sounds like your another "Good News Troller". . .I am not loyal to a single company if I think AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile is making a dumb move i'll call them out. Sprint has the most drama. They are the problem child of the wireless phone industry. Also, Sprint customers try this... Put ##786# in your brand new Sprint phone to check the Refurb status. Chances are it will say Yes or the date it was RECONDITIONED!!! I'll stick to sites like Phonearena, CNBC, Yahoo! Finance, etc. You can keep your sissy vampire and harry potter sites to yourself, thanks for the offer.

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