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Partial acquisition by Japanese carrier

Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) posted a rather grim earnings report for its fiscal Q4 2012, however, the blow was softened somewhat by its pending $20B USD partial acquisition by Japanese carrier giant Softbank Corp. (TYO:9984).  Sprint is losing money -- and subscribers -- but is expected to benefit from Softbank's commitment to finance a large network upgrade to 4G LTE in 2013.

Sprint lost $1.32B USD on revenue of $9B USD in Q4 2012.  That represents a 3.2 percent rise in revenue, but essentially no shift on the loss front (in 2011 Sprint lost $1.3B USD in Q4).  Sprint lost 337,000 customers for the quarter (about the same as the Q4 2011) losses and its sister Nextel network lost 1 million subscribers.

Rivals Verizon Wireless -- the U.S. mobile carrier jointly owned by Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD) -- and AT&T Inc. (Tboth added customers for the quarter.  Verizon added 2.1 million new contract subscribers, while AT&T bumped subscriptions by 780,000.

Sprint sign
[Image Source: Scott Lippincott]

Sprint's postpaid offerings did quite well and it did manage to sell 2.2 million iPhones in the quarter (versus 8.6 million iPhones sold by AT&T and 6.2 million iPhones by Verizon).

For the year Sprint gained about 605,000 customers thanks to strong postpaid performance.  Sprint lost $4.3B USD for the year on revenue of $35.3B USD.

Sprint has begun constructing LTE network capabilities in 450 cities.  Its current network covers 58 cities, and 170 more will be added in "coming months". The network upgrade is expected to run $3.6B USD.

Source: Sprint

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It's the network stupid
By lwatcdr on 2/7/2013 3:15:50 PM , Rating: 4
Honestly it is not the lack of LTE that is really killing Sprint. It is the terrible 3G that is in most areas. I have no idea what Sprint did or did not do to their network but in a lot of areas it is just about unusable. I often get sub 80kb speeds! Some areas like around Dallas TX have very good speeds but if you travel or are not in a good area you can end up with a usless smart phone that has trouble with even pulling up Maps or sending a twitter. Forget about streaming audio or video. I hope Smartbank ponies up some cash soon and Sprint stops wasting money on anything but upgrading their network.

RE: It's the network stupid
By Shig on 2/7/2013 3:42:21 PM , Rating: 2
Or you can go to Verizon, pay more, have excellent speed and burn through your monthly allowance in a day. Yay caps.

RE: It's the network stupid
By RufusM on 2/8/2013 3:57:23 PM , Rating: 2
This is why I switched to T-Mobile pre-paid about a year ago from Sprint pre-paid. I tried it as an experiment and stayed.

I've found T-Mobile to have better network coverage than Sprint (in my area and when I travel) and their data speeds are pretty good. On T-Mobile I average about 7Mb/1Mb up but it bursts to 20Mb/3Mb in good areas.

None of them touch Verizon for overall metro and rural coverage but you pay a premium for them too.

RE: It's the network stupid
By Reclaimer77 on 2/9/2013 8:58:46 AM , Rating: 2
Well for me personally I was paying for unlimited data, but at the end of the day I discovered that I wasn't using that much. Sprint's WiMax network is so horrible and unreliable that I was connecting to every WiFi network I could anyway.

Just last month I paid their rape-you early termination fee and went with Verizon. And I couldn't be happier. You can make all the jokes you want, but what's the point of unlimited data if you can't even use it? It's a shell game. Sprint sat on their ass and watched everyone pass them by with LTE build-outs, but offer unlimited data hoping you won't complain.

Sprint is the worst. They just are. Verizon's service is just incredible, and I can live well within the cap no problem.

RE: It's the network stupid
By Totally on 2/7/2013 5:06:03 PM , Rating: 2
They have an awesome network, it's their customer service usually leads to some kind of horror story that tarnishes their rep, and hop on the bandwagon attitude(why they lost my business) that costs them customers and dearly at that.

RE: It's the network stupid
By djc208 on 2/8/2013 8:50:53 AM , Rating: 2
I've had Sprint for many years now and my experience has usually be the reverse. The network isn't as good as the competition but their customer service is better, though I haven't had need to call them too much.

Just hope they actually follow through with this 4G upgrade, because for the last two years I paid for their last 4G network that I never got to use.

RE: It's the network stupid
By euclidean on 2/8/2013 12:20:09 PM , Rating: 2
Your story mimics mine exactly....

...My contract is up, and I'm going to hold off on re-signing for the better part of this year for two reasons:
1. To see what happens with their network upgrades (if it actually starts and makes news, I'll stay - if not...not sure what I'm going to do...)
2. I'm going to wait til Q2/Q3 to upgrade my phone anyways (I like the phones on the market, but they've all been out for the better part of 6 months or more...want to see what else comes this year before getting an "old" phone)

Truly though, I just can't bring myself to pay a ton more each month for Verizon or AT&T, and then get a CAP on my data use...based on my year over year usage at Sprint, to get the same number of phones and just faster service with Verizon (for example), I'd be paying ~$90 more a thanks..

By Dr. Kenneth Noisewater on 2/8/2013 4:07:29 PM , Rating: 2
Then use a MVNO with better customer service!

I switched from TMo prepaid 4G to Ting and am much happier. 4G LTE in Austin, Lockhart, and points all around central TX, and I pay for what I eat (which is pretty minimal most of the time, and for other times I have alerts and limits set).

RE: It's the network stupid
By Cheesew1z69 on 2/9/2013 12:49:39 PM , Rating: 2
The network sucks...

RE: It's the network stupid
By Dr of crap on 2/8/2013 12:37:28 PM , Rating: 2
Have had Sprint for at least 10 years - it's been a pleasure. Have NO trouble with service, in St Paul area, and have had no trouble with travling as well.

And why does everyone knock customer service? WHY do you even need to deal with customer service? Haven't called them in at least 5 years. And when I did they did a fine job.

AND love the unlimited service I get. And yep someone will say that the unlimited has to come to an end because of loosing money. Well I've heard that for many years now, and STILL have unlimited service. So I'll be unlimited until something happens, which at this point I think will not happen.

its about customer serivice sprint!
By ComputerJuice on 2/7/2013 3:12:22 PM , Rating: 2
Ive been with every major carrier in the US (and some small ones) as I move around a lot, and usually whoever I am on contract with pays for my phone, often that means a new carrier. Sprint actually has a lot going for it in terms of what you get for what you pay, however, I would NEVER go with sprint again if I had a choice... Why? Simply, Their customer service is abysmal. Its like you are the enemy when you have to call and talk to someone... just speaking to a human is not a simple thing and when finally do you are treated like you are trying to scam them. Then billing... for crying out loud.

My personal story is this, contractor gave me a phone, I wanted an upgraded phone not part of the deal and had to pay out of pocket... NP until sprint charged me for the phone & didnt send it, upon them discovering that, they charged me again then sent 2 phones. Called to send them back 1 phone & get a refund resulted in another phone & another charge. This continued happening until I had 5 unopened phones in addition to the one I was using as well as a $1800 phone bill the first month. When I finally got that straightened out (3 months later), they had sent me to collections but given me $2600 credit on my bill... madness ensued, mostly mine because they didnt give a squat. Eventually it got worked out (almost 1 year later), but by that time I was already with a different carrier in a different country.

2 years later (last year), I had a contract and guess what? Back to sprint, learning my lesson I just took the phone they gave me but upgraded the plan, simple enough but the same what can only be described as harassment. Jebus... I only wanted to spend more money with you sprint why the hostility?

By ComputerJuice on 2/7/2013 3:15:54 PM , Rating: 2
I guess my point was this: If sprint had some measure of decent customer service, they'd likely not be hurting for cash.

RE: its about customer serivice sprint!
By DiscoWade on 2/7/2013 6:39:07 PM , Rating: 2
My dad had Sprint once. He called to ask for the mailing address so that he could pay the bill. The answer he got was "why?" That told me enough right there to never get Sprint.

I have AT&T right now. I find their customer service to be friendly but incompetent. I can live with that. Since I'm grandfathered into a great rate plan and since my service is good enough where I live, I stay with them.

By Dr of crap on 2/8/2013 12:42:18 PM , Rating: 2
And yet all you hear is how ATT customer service is bad.

AND why are you snail mailing in your payment. Online is so much easier.

Everyone a thier own experiences, and you'll only find the bad ones posted here. Those of us satisfied with Sprint, won't post!

I love my SERO account
By GreyMulkin on 2/7/2013 6:05:59 PM , Rating: 2
$57 / mo, taxes included. Too bad it isn't more widely available.

I wish Verizon had an unlimited offering because Sprint's 3G and 4G both take patience. When you're in a good spot, it's fantastic. When you're not, it can be frustrating.

I look forward to how things go with softbank.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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