Sprint has been losing money with the impending shutdown of its Nextel network. Customers had been leaving the “push to talk” walkie-talkie-like service in waves, and Sprint is pulling the plug at the end of the year. Though, investors have been happy with the performance of Apple’s iPhone on the Sprint network, as the company has added a $10-per-month surcharge for smartphones – and the iPhone has been a big draw, likely due to Sprint’s offering of unlimited data plans for the device.
Sprint’s shares will close $2.10, a 3-year low, though were valued at $2.66 before hitting the market, up $0.19, or 7.7%. Sprint has struggled with the Nextel network, though the introduction of the iPhone has been turning things around in a new focus on customer service, i.e. the aforementioned unlimited data plans, which AT&T and Verizon don’t offer. Sprint is also rumored to support the new iPhone LTE at launch, and is presently readying its LTE network to accomodate the device.
Still, the ‘iPhone effect’ on Sprint hasn’t completely fixed things – the network lost 192,000 customers, including Nextel subscribers, in the last year – though, disregarding Nextel, Sprint saw a net gain of 263,000 new contracts. Sprint’s Q1 2012 net loss was $863 million, roughly $0.29 per share. Q1 2011 losses were $439 million and $0.15 respectively, though revenue was up 5% between the two periods, at $8.73 billion, a little higher than analysts had projected.
In related news, I’d recently reported on the addition of iPhone plans to small, regional carriers. It is not yet clear what the ‘iPhone effect’ will do for Appalachian Wireless.