Sprint Loses Fewer Subscribers, But Still More Than AT&T, Verizon

Sprint Nextel Corp. may be improving its relationships with its customers.

In its fourth quarter earnings Thursday, the third-largest U.S. mobile operator reported postpaid churn of 1.86 percent in the fourth quarter, reflecting the lowest turnover in subscribers in the fourth quarter of any year. That figure compares to postpaid churn of 2.11 percent in the same period a year ago.

Sprint primarily attributed the decline in churn to progress in brand health, handset offerings and overall customer perception.”

But Sprints largest competitors are still managing to keep more subscribers. In the fourth quarter, Verizon Wireless reported retail postpaid churn of 1.01 percent while AT&T reported postpaid churn of 1.15 percent.

Overland Park, Kan.-based Sprint also reported that fewer of its prepaid subscribers were leaving. The company reported prepaid churn of 4.93 percent in the fourth quarter, which compared to churn of 5.56 percent in the period a year ago and 5.32 percent in the third quarter of 2010.

Sprint said the improvements were primarily the result of the predominance of Boost Monthly Unlimited subscribers on CDMA and Assurance Wireless customers, who on average have lower churn than that of Virgin Mobile customers.”

Over the year, Sprint added roughly 1.6 million prepaid subscribers and now serves about 12.3 million prepaid customers. 

The company served a total of 49.9 million customers at the end of the year, well below the number of subscribers that AT&T and Verizon Wireless support. At years end, AT&T served 95.5 million customers and Verizon Wireless had 94.1 million customers.

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