Sprint Nextel has trumpeted its “best total company wireless subscriber net additions since 2006,” gaining 644,000 customers during the quarter to 30 September 2010. Its financial results were less impressive, however, revealing a net loss that increased to US$911 million from US$478 million, on revenue which increased 1.4 percent to US$8.15 billion.
Revenue from its wireless business grew 3.5 percent to US$7.18 billion, with wireless service revenue up almost 2 percent to US$6.4 billion. This was accompanied by a 12 percent decline in revenue at its fixed line business, falling to US$1.25 billion from US$1.41 billion, as a result of reduced voice volume and rate and reduced rates for both data & IP services.
The increase in sales in the wireless business was attributed to an increase in the number of prepaid subscribers through promotions at Boost Mobile and the acquisition of Virgin Mobile, partially offset by a loss of contract subscribers since the third quarter of 2009. Sprint has lost 107,000 net contract subscribers during the period, although this was an 87 percent improvement compared to the losses for Q3 2009. Sprint anticipates that its postpaid, prepaid and total net subscriber results will improve year-on-year during the fourth quarter of 2010.
Sprint says its “multi-brand prepaid strategy continued to roll-out during the third quarter,” with new service plans added to its Boost Mobile, Assurance Wireless and Virgin Mobile portfolios. At Virgin Mobile, it has introduced data-oriented packages. Contract mobile ARPU was down US$1 to US$55 year-on-year, with prepaid ARPU falling to US$28 from US$35, due to the inclusion of Assurance Wireless and Virgin Mobile customers, which have a lower ARPU than Boost subscribers. At the end of the third quarter, Sprint was serving 48.8 million customers, of which 33.1 million (68 percent) were contract, 11.6 million (24 percent) were prepaid, and 4.1 million (8 percent) were wholesale or affiliate subscribers. It also has 22 percent of its subscribers connected to its iDEN network, excluding dual-mode customers who can also access its CDMA services.
For the lucrative Christmas holiday sales period, Sprint says it has “a varied and compelling device portfolio that includes more than a dozen products that offer 4G service, including phones, USB modems, mobile hotspots and routers.” It is also set to offer Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablet device, is claiming to be “the first wireless carrier in America to offer an embedded 3G/4G netbook and notebook,” and has a new clamshell BlackBerry device in the pipeline.