Sprint added 1.2 million net customers in the first quarter, retaining its position as the No. 3 U.S. wireless carrier, but revenue slipped by 7 percent to $8.3 billion, and the company’s net loss widened to $224 million for the quarter as customers shifted to new rate plans.
The overall growth put Sprint at 57.1 million customers, compared with 56.8 million subscribers for Bellevue, Wash.-based T-Mobile.
However, much of Sprint’s growth came in prepaid wireless customers, where the company added a total of 211,000 customers. The company posted a net loss of 201,000 postpaid phone customers, the most coveted and closely watched category of wireless subscribers. These customers, who pay at the end of a billing period, typically have better credit than their prepaid peers and are considered more valuable.
Sprint was still able to post a gain in postpaid customers overall thanks in part to net additions of 349,000 postpaid tablet customers.
Marcelo Claure took over as CEO after Sprint parent Softbank’s talks to acquire T-Mobile fell through last year in the face of likely regulatory opposition. The company has been promoting wireless plan discounts with an aggressive “Cut Your Bill in Half” marketing campaign in an attempt to retain and win customers from T-Mobile and larger rivals Verizon and AT&T.
“I am proud of the team for successfully executing the first phase of our strategy to stop the decline in customers,” said Claure in a news release. “We are now one quarter into the second phase, focusing on attracting more quality customers, retaining our customers through a better customer experience and continuously improving the network.”
He added, “As a result, Sprint platform net additions were the highest in nearly three years, postpaid churn dropped by 46 basis points sequentially, and the network received more awards in major markets, all of which will position the company for profitable growth.”