Sprint may have gained 967,000 new connections in the most recent quarter, but the carrier also lost 205,000 postpaid phone subscribers during the same period. Moreover, the 967,000 new additions mainly consisted of prepaid, wholesale, and tablet connections -- not the smartphone subscriptions that are core to Sprint's business.
As for the 205,000 subscribers that Sprint lost, these are high-value customers that are likely signed up under premium service plan contracts.
The carrier did post some growth in postpaid connections by gaining 30,000 new connections, but these were all tablet connections. There is nothing wrong with tablet connections, but a $30 tablet plan is no substitute for a $60 smartphone plan. And relative to the industry leaders' numbers, Sprint's 30,000 tablet connections is certainly no match for the combined 2.4 million new tablet connections that Verizon Wireless and AT&T managed in the final quarter of 2014.
Also, there just aren't that many new smartphone customers out there, compared to new tablet connections. What is actually happening right now is that wireless carriers are just courting the usual postpaid customers from the same existing pool -- apart from those who upgraded from prepaid plans, these postpaid customers are just the same people jumping from one carrier to another. So, getting new postpaid customers really is quite a challenge.
The carrier's efforts may have paid off. According to Sprint, it registered a record quarter in terms of attracting postpaid smartphone subscribers over to its fold. But alas -- its competitors were quite effective too in grabbing Sprint's customers away. As a matter of fact, Sprint's customer turnover rate for postpaid customers during the most recent quarter was 2.3 percent, almost twice that of Verizon's churn rate. Ouch.
For the final quarter of 2014, Sprint also reported a loss amounting to $2.38 billion. Last year, the carrier posted a $1.04 billion loss in the same quarter. Sprint's total number of customers is now at 55.9 million.
Sure, Sprint has been gaining some new customers, but it is also losing a lot of its core phone subscribers. It certainly is not the kind of growth that Sprint has been aiming for, but the positive news is that the carrier has the whole year to try and make up for its losses.
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