What you need to know
- Sprint announced Q3 results with losses and churn less than anticipated.
- Postpaid customer loss is accelerating and revenue is down compared to last year's Q3.
- The company hopes approval of its merger with T-Mobile will end its troubles.
Analsyst predicted Sprint would lose 160,000 postpaid subscribers this past quarter, but the nation's fourth largest carrier instead lost 115,000 customers as more than expected stayed to take advantage of cheaper monthly plans. That amounts to 1.87% churn on postpaid subscribers, the most valuable category of cellular customer. This is still more turnover than the carrier saw at the same time last year, when churn was 1.75%. Revenue is also down year over year.
"I continue to be impressed by the commitment of Sprint employees to deliver results during this period of uncertainty ... As we await a decision in the state attorneys general lawsuit, I continue to believe the merger with T-Mobile is the best way to deliver the benefits of competition to American consumers." — Sprint CEO Michel Combes
Reuters quotes analysts who call the carrier's situation grim if the upcoming merger with T-Mobile is not finalized. There are thirteen states suing to block the merger, led by California and New York state Attorneys General after Texas AG Ken Paxton dropped his objections late last year.
Like all major carriers, Sprint is beginning to roll out its new 5G network, and it takes a slightly different approach than any of its rivals, upgrading much of its existing mid-band spectrum instead of making an early push into either low-frequency data range or high-frequency mmWave data speeds. T-Mobile has started with low-band networking, while the larger rivals are opening their 5G networks with mmWave. None of these solutions will be adequate for nationwide 5G coverage on its own, so Sprint and T-Mobile argue a merger is their best chance to compete in the future carrier marketplace.