Sprint: EVO 4G, BlackBerry Curve Key to Best Customer Numbers in Years

Demand for the new HTC EVO 4G and the BlackBerry Curve helped Sprint Nextel Corp. report its highest subscriber additions in three years on Wednesday.

Shares of the Overland Park, Kan.-based wireless operator jumped more than 1 percent to $4.88 on the news.

In all, Sprint signed about 111,000 net new customers in the second quarter, thanks largely to new mobile devices such as the EVO and Curve. The EVO smartphone, the first 4G device in the United States, runs on Sprints WiMAX network. Postpaid churn also declined, a major coup for a company that has struggled to compete with AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc.

Still, despite the much-needed improvements, Sprint managed to lose $760 million in the three months ended June 30. Thats compared to a $384 million loss a year earlier. This time, Sprint took a 10-cent-per-share charge for an increase in valuation allowance on deferred tax assets. Revenue dropped, as well, by 1.4 percent to $8.03 billion. Some of that was due to the loss of 228,000 postpaid customers. Also, Sprint suffered from an EVO shortage, something the carrier hopes to fix soon as it tries to best the iPhone 4.

Meanwhile, Sprints prepaid sector is floundering somewhat. The Nextel network which Sprint bought in an ill-fated 2005 merger lost 465,000 users. However, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said that was because of seasonal weakness, migration to the Sprint network and supply problems. Sprint added subscribers through its Common Cents program at 700 Wal-Mart stores, he said, as well as through the relaunch of Virgin Mobile, which Sprint purchased last year, and by expanding the low-income Assurance Wireless program.

Sprint is the third-largest service provider in the United States.

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