Sprint continued to lose wireless customers during the fourth quarter of last year but at least it lost fewer than before. What helped? Boost Mobile, the Irvine prepaid mobile service, which celebrated its success with a Super Bowl commercial.
According to the numbers, Boost’s national unlimited plan added enough customers in the quarter that parent company Sprint was able to winnow its prepaid customer churn rate — or customers coming and going — down to 5.56%, compared to 8.2 % a year earlier. But Boost wasn’t alone in Sprint’s praise. Virgin Mobile, which Sprint acquired in November 2009, was noted for its low churn rate that, on average, was lower than Boost’s.
Boost’s main push last year was unlimited plans, which still allowed customers to pay when they needed service but required a month-long commitment. That helped Sprint make an average of $31 per customer, compared to $30 a year ago. However, before Virgin Mobile joined the prepaid group, the unit made $35 per customer.
Overall, Sprint lost about 200,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter, ending the year with 48.1 million customers. Approximately 10.7 million of those were prepaid subscribers. The company also posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $980 million on revenues of $7.9 billion. Comparably, the company posted a net loss of $1.6 billion on revenues of $8.4 billion in the prior year.
Sprint also updated the world with its 4G rollout, which promises faster wireless data speeds. Sprint 4G is now in 27 markets serving 30 million customers. That should reach 120 million people by the end of the year. This year, 4G will launch in Boston, New York, Houston, San Francisco and Washington D.C.
While not available yet in Orange County, former Boost Mobile president Matt Carter, pictured on right, was tapped in December to lead Sprint’s 4G division. He is still based in Orange County.
Read the full 4th quarter earnings release HERE.
Earlier on Boost and Sprint: