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Sprint Falls to No. 4 Among Wireless Carriers by Number of Subscribers

After adding two million more customers, T-Mobile surpassed Sprint to become the third-largest U.S. carrier, with 59 million subscribers.


Sprint became the smallest of the four major U.S. wireless carriers last quarter, as it gained 675,000 customers compared to more than two million customers for T-Mobile U.S.

That left Sprint with 57.7 million subscribers, compared to 58.9 million subscribers for T-Mobile.

Some thought the changeover would happen earlier in the year, but strong prepaid gains helped keep Sprint narrowly ahead of T-Mobile in the first quarter.


Still, there was a fair bit of good news in Sprint’s report.

The company raised its outlook for the fiscal year, saying it now expects earnings before income, taxes and other items to be between $7.2 billion and $7.6 billion, as compared to a prior forecast of $6.5 billion to $6.9 billion in such income.

Sprint also neared its goal of turning positive in terms of core smartphone subscribers, losing just 12,000 such customers in the quarter, as compared to the several hundred thousand or millions that it had been ceding in prior quarters. The company said it gained postpaid smartphone customers in both May and June. The company also did better at holding on to existing customers, with a record low churn rate of 1.56 percent, compared to more than 2 percent a year earlier.

Meanwhile, the company posted another quarterly loss, but the $20 million loss amounted to just a penny per share, far narrower than the eight-cent loss that analysts had been expecting. Its net operating revenue of $8 billion was down 9 percent from the prior year as more customers shifted to buying their smartphones in monthly installments.

“Over the past year, Sprint has made meaningful progress in our turnaround by improving our network performance and enhancing our overall value proposition,” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a statement.

Sprint also gave some details on the expected costs of its network expansion plans, saying it does not expect to raise capital by selling debt or stock, nor by selling spectrum.

“We are confident in our plan to leverage our unique spectrum assets to make our network a competitive advantage, aggressively reduce operating costs and utilize our business relationships and assets to fund our turnaround,” Claure said.

On Monday, Sprint announced the latest changes to its management team, replacing its chief financial officer and bringing in a new technical operating chief.


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