The HTC Evo 4G and Samsung Epic 4G helped Sprint add 644,000 wireless subscribers during its third fiscal quarter, but the carrier still posted a financial loss.
The best descriptor of Sprint's third-quarter performance, said CEO Dan Hesse, is "momentum."
Sprint announced third-quarter consolidated net operating revenues
of nearly $8.2 billion. However, Sprint still posted a net loss of $911
million during the quarter. However, Sprint also added 644,000 wireless
subscribers during the quarter-its best total wireless subscriber net
additions since 2006.
"The last two quarters have been the best two churn quarters in our
history," Hesse said during an Oct. 27 earnings call, adding that
Sprint's return rate in the 30 days is actually lower, since it
launched its 30-day money-back guarantee than for any previous year on
record. Both the Sprint brand and the CDMA platform were also both net
positive for the first time on record.
"That is," Hesse clarified, "more customers are switching to Sprint
than are switching from Sprint... Port-ins from our competitors have
practically doubled year-over-year. Based upon Sprint's data, they're
up 95 percent."
Nonetheless, the carrier still has much ground to cover, in working to catch up to competitors Verizon Wireless
and AT&T, which days earlier reported customer additions for the
quarter of 1 million and 2.6 million subscribers, respectively.
AT&T, which began offering the iPhone 4, additionally posted a quarter packed with records
-for gross adds, sales of integrated devices, customer upgrades and third-quarter net adds.
Still, Hesse was positive, ticking off Sprint's own recent
accolades, which included its highest rating ever for network
satisfaction, according to a third-party survey; top grades in a recent
J.D. Power & Associates wireless call quality performance study;
and being ranked No. 6 nationally among the 100 greenest companies-the
only telecom in the top 95-by Newsweek.
Thanks largely to Sprint's preowned device program, which tidies up
used phones for reuse, Sprint placed first for actual environmental
impact. It was also named one of the 20 most responsible companies, out
of the 4,100 companies evaluated, said Hesse.
Back to wireless matters, Sprint-which is a majority-share owner
of 4G provider Clearwire-launched 19 additional 4G markets during the
quarter, and has New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco in its sights
for the fourth quarter.
Clearwire, however, is in need of $2 billion, according to analyst
estimates, to continue the fourth-quarter build out of its network, and
so is expected to begin auctioning off portions of its spectrum holdings
Adding that he wouldn't say any more on the matter-though analysts on
the call certainly worked to achieve otherwise-Hesse said that
"Sprint has been in talks with Clearwire, regarding the financial
status of its ongoing operations, as well as Sprint potentially adding
new financing." While the discussions are ongoing, Hesse said there are
no assurances that they'll result in any transaction.
Through Clearwire, Sprint-something of a "little engine that
could" in the wireless industry, after years ago earning a deserved
reputation for terrible service-has been the first to offer 4G
connectivity. A good portion of its recent success has come thanks to
its highly praised 4G-capable smartphones, the HTC Evo 4G, launched
during the second quarter, and the Samsung Epic 4G, launched during the
third. Following high demand for these handsets, Hesse reported, Sprint
posted a postpaid churn result of 1.93 percent-its best ever for a
"Although our momentum continues ... we realize that we have much
progress still to make," said Hesse. "We are in a hyper-competitive
industry, with strong, capable competitors, so making progress is hard
work. But we intend to persevere."