Sprint Still Losing Money, Customers

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Dan Hesse’s turnaround at Sprint Nextel is still far from finished.

The company lost 545,000 net wireless subscribers during Q3 — including 135,000 important “retail” subscribers — and posted a $478 million net loss.

And now, on the company’s earnings call, Hesse speaks of trying to find growth in the prepaid mobile market, which is historically a worse business to be in than “postpaid” service, where subscribers sign long-term contracts and pay more for service.

Four signs of improvement:

  • Sprint’s “postpaid” gross additions — new customers signed up — were up quite a bit. The year-over-year improvement was the best in company history, and the sequential improvement was the best in more than 5 years, according to Sprint’s release.
  • Postpaid losses have improved by about 20% in each of the last two quarters.
  • Retail net losses have improved significantly, to 135,000 last quarter from more than 1.4 million a year ago.
  • Boost continues to perform well.

And Sprint still leads the industry in getting its customers to pay for mobile data: Its average CDMA customer spends $19 per month on data, including text messaging and mobile Internet access, representing more than one-third of those customers’ bills.

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