The third-place carrier today reported a $643 million net loss on revenues of $8.79 billion for the first quarter of 2013. When it came to actual operating income though, Sprint managed to eke out a positive result of $29 million.
Sprint added 5 million smartphones in the quarter, 1.5 million of which were iPhones. (At this point, I wonder if Sprint’s kicking itself for that $20 billion deal with Apple to get the iPhone.)
The big problem for Sprint is holding onto its Nextel subscribers. In the last quarter it lost 572,000 Nextel subscribers — mostly because the carrier is planning to shut down the aging Nextel network at the end of June. But only 263,000 of those subscribers ended up sticking with Sprint.
Sprint’s best tactic for retaining customers is its unlimited data plans, coupled with its LTE 4G rollout. So far the carrier only has LTE in 88 cities, though it plans to reach more than 170 “in the coming months.” I’ve been hearing from some of Sprint’s partners that they’ve been surprised by the slow LTE rollout, and I’m sure Sprint’s customers are taking notice. Nobody wants to be stuck on Sprint’s 3G or WiMax network when they can easily see much higher speeds on another carrier.