Another Quarter, Another 900k Subscriber Drop for Sprint (Updated)

Nearly eight months after we first asked whether or not it was time to start the Sprint Deathwatch, we have another quarterly “earnings” report from the company. Results: Bad.

  • Loss of $344 Million / 12 cents a share
  • Loss of 901,000 subscribers.

That brings Sprint's total down to around 51.9 million subscribers, compared to 68.7 for Verizon and 72.9 for AT&T. Sprint's results are better than last quarters' results, when they lost over a million of 'em. CEO Dan Hesse is optimistic, of course:

“We are seeing signs of progress from our efforts to improve the customer experience, rebuild the Sprint brand and increase our profitability”

Sprint also hung on to their Average Revenue Per User (the evil god of ARPU) -- dropping SERO for Everything Plus likely had a hand in that. They kept their churn rate relatively stable. So that's something. Our advised next steps for Sprint:

  • Get really serious about that customer service thing, because nearly all the reports we've been getting tell us it's still crap.
  • Sell off Nextel like you've been thinking about
  • Whatever the illuminati-esque plan behind selling off your towers and letting Clearwire handle your 4G network infrastructure is, do it faster. First-to-market 4G would go a long way towards saving your keister
  • Don't ever forget: people love you because you have 3G in a lot of places and it's usually cheaper than the competition. Don't raise your prices on data.

Read [via]

Update: Hesse has just finished leading the call - some of that after the break.

Transcript from cellular-news:

The focus on retention is taking its toll on gross subscriber additions, or the number of new customers it is adding. Hesse is willing to tolerate the lower additions if they represent higher quality customers.“We're working to improve the quality of the customer base,” Hesse told analysts Wednesday during a conference call.

Yeah, you read that right: Sprint is trying to make you a better customer. There's the uncharitable way to read that, which we think is fairly straightforward, and the charitable way. Charitable way: Sprint's getting more customers on their unlimited plans which guarantee them a higher per-month income for each customer (ARPU) because of added data and SMS on top of voice -- services we are willing to bet that most of Sprint's unlimited customers aren't using to their full potential.

WC Staff
  • I've had sprint for about a month now and phone coverage / 3g is indeed very good - got in on some SERO action at the last minute =). The customer support does suck though - when a customer support tech is reading out of a manual when helping you with a phone that came out two bloody years ago I get kind of worried. I mean if they were a bit confused about the 800W I'd understand that, but having to break out the book for a Touch? I mean come on.
    Spending ten minutes talking to support only to have them rephrase what you already knew and patch you through to someone else even more confused / with an even heavier accent gets old mighty fast. Nothing against accents, but on the most basic level you have to be understandable / capable of understanding someone else if you're working phones.
  • I wouldn't complain about Sprint phone support, but I had verizon for years and never had any trouble working with their tech support. Sure verizon double billed me / cancelled plan options and then re-added them at higher cost, but every time I realized they had screwed something up & called them they were able to communicate clearly and always fixed the problem. Even if some of the verizon reps were a little slow I never *hung up* on a verizon rep and called back simply because they couldn't understand what I was saying.
    (1) sprint screws up less, but when you have a problem you're on your own
    (2) verizon screws up all the time, but it's easier to fix things
  • Not sure why Sprint's customers numbers keep plummeting...they have the best network (voice and data), and the best prices. Sure the phone selection is limited, but it's not any worse than other carriers. The customer service has gotten better, and with their new web site, there is little reaosn to call them (self-service activations - awesome, and I don't think anyone else does this). The Nextel merger was a mistake and a big cash suck, no doubt.