Sprint customers ebb as it awaits lifeline from T-Mobile

It’s still just plain Sprint as the T-Mobile takeover takes its time. 

Lynn La/Techhnews

Sprint is in the midst of a “lame duck” session as it awaits a takeover by bigger rival T-Mobile. And it’s been keeping itself busy with an upgrade to — what else? — 5G.

The smallest of the four national wireless carriers, which earlier this year struck a deal to be acquired by T-Mobile to create a larger No. 3 player, has been busy rolling out network upgrades to prepare for the next generation wireless network technology, which promises better speeds, capacity and responsiveness. 

Amid its work, Sprint reported fiscal second-quarter results that showed a slight slowdown in customers. The company lost 34,000 postpaid phone customers, or people who pay at the end of the month, and 20,000 total wireless customers. 

Sprint’s results reflect a cooling down around the industry as carriers pull back on aggressive promotions, even with the launch of Apple’s iPhones. Gone are the free iPhone deals — carriers are content to dig in on preserving their customer base with select deals. As result, T-Mobile once again led the industry with customer growth, while Verizon also made decent gains. AT&T struggled to eke out a little phone growth, and Sprint, as usual, followed the pack.

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With its customer base waning, Sprint chose to focus on its growing wireless service revenue in the period. Excluding a new revenue accounting standard, it grew year over year for the first time in five  years. 

None of this matters if T-Mobile takes over the company. While Sprint has been working on its 5G network, and says that, in conjunction with LG, it will release the first 5G smartphone in the US, but T-Mobile has plans for Sprint’s valuable stash of radio airwaves. T-Mobile said the two companies’ spectrum combined could make for a potent 5G network, one of its key selling points for the merger. 

For the period that ended Sept. 30, Sprint posted a profit of $196 million, or 5 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $48 million, or 1 cent a share. Revenue rose 6 percent to $8.43 billion.

Analysts, on average, had forecast a loss of 1 cent per share and revenue of $7.97 billion, according to Yahoo Finance.

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