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Sprint Falls To Fourth Place In Subscriber Count

Overland Park, Kan. – Sprint boosted its subscriber base by 675,000 in its first fiscal quarter ending June, but the gain wasn’t enough to prevent the carrier from slipping behind a surging T-Mobile to fall to fourth place by wireless subscriber count.

Sprint’s subscriber base, including MVNO subscribers, hit 56.8 million, but T-Mobile’s 2.07 million net-subscriber gain in the same period put T-Mobile’s base at 58.9 million, including MVNO subscribers.

Sprint’s 670,000 net subscriber additions were due mainly to MVNO and prepaid tablet net adds. Postpaid phone subscribers continued to drop, this time by 12,000. The postpaid phone losses, however, marked the fifth consecutive quarter of sequential improvement, and the losses were down markedly from the year-ago loss of 620,000 and the prior-quarter’s loss of 201,000.

CEO Marcelo Claure also noted that the carrier gained postpaid phone subscribers in May and June of the quarter and in July, and he said he expects the fiscal second quarter to post net postpaid phone subscriber gains.

Here are the carrier’s key performance results in the quarter ending June:

Postpaid net gains: Total postpaid subscriber gains (phones, tablets and data devices) came to 310,000, up sequentially from 211,000 and an improvement over the year-ago loss of 181,000.

The company lost 12,000 postpaid phone subscribers and gained 271,000 postpaid tablet subscriptions, down from the year-ago 535,000 and prior-quarter’s 349,000, as the company switched its focus on gaining phone subscribers.

Prepaid losses: The carrier lost 366,000 prepaid subscribers, down from the year-ago loss of 542,000 but a reversal of the previous quarter’s 546,000 net subscriber gain.

MVNO gains: Wholesale and affiliate net adds grew 731,000 from the year-ago period’s 503,000 and the prior quarter’s 492,000.

Wireless operating revenues: Revenues fell 7.9 percent to $7.54 billion from the year-ago period, because of postpaid customer losses and a decline in device revenues, which was a result of growing uptake in leasing plans over installment-payment plans, the company said. The latter recognizes more revenue at the time of sale, while leasing recognizes “revenue over time,” the company explained. The company, however, plans to set up a leasing company with Softbank so it can recognize leasing income faster.

Wireless operating income: Income fell 2.9 percent to $542 million.