Sprint is focusing its efforts on “attracting more quality customers, retaining our customers through a better customer experience and continuously improving the network,” as it takes on T-Mobile in the battle of the challengers in the US market.

The company added 1.2 million Sprint platform customers during the quarter to 31 March, the highest number in three years, driven by growth in its prepaid business and reduced postpaid customer losses.

It also trumpeted its improved postpaid churn of 1.84 per cent, compared with 2.30 per cent in the last quarter, which it said was “the best sequential improvement in nearly seven years”.

But it was not all positive: Sprint saw postpaid phone subscriber losses of 201,000, although this was improved both sequentially and year-on-year, and was coupled with strong postpaid tablet growth.

It ended the period with 57.14 million connections. Close rival T-Mobile uses the term customers rather than connections, with its total topping 56.8 million – adding 1.8 million during its most recent quarter. T-Mobile CEO John Legere will therefore have to wait at least another quarter to see his company achieve a longstated ambition of becoming the US’ third-largest operator.

When it came to its financials, the picture for Sprint was less than rosy. A net loss of $224 million was increased from $151 million in the prior year period, as lower operating income was partially offset by reduced income tax expenses.

Operating income of $318 million was down from $420 million in the year-ago quarter, primarily due to higher depreciation expenses.

Operating revenue of $8.3 billion was down from $8.9 billion, as lower wireless service revenue mostly driven by customer shifts to rate plans associated with device financing options was partially offset by higher equipment revenue.

Developments highlighted by the company include the launch of the Sprint Direct 2 You programme, “expected to transform the mobile phone buying experience by taking the retail store experience to the customer”; availability of “free international value roaming”, offering 2G speeds to customers visiting “major areas in Latin America, Europe and Japan” with no extra charge; and Wi-Fi calling for iPhone as well as Android devices.