Second quarter earnings reports issued this week by T-Mobile US and Sprint confirm that T-Mobile has overtaken Sprint as the nation’s third-ranked wireless carrier. Despite reporting net subscriber additions of 675,000 during the second quarter, Sprint tallied 57.668 million customers at the end of June, falling short of the 58.908 million customers reported by T-Mobile. Nevertheless, as analysts attributed T-Mobile’s ascendency to the strength of the company’s continuing “uncarrier” campaign, which recently featured plans to eliminate mobile roaming charges in foreign markets, Sprint executives downplayed the subscriber rankings as they voiced optimism for the company’s future prospects.
In remarks during a conference call, Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son told investors that, while he had “lost confidence” last year in the wake of FCC opposition against his company’s attempts to strike a merger agreement with T-Mobile, he now feels “much more confident about Sprint.” The second quarter subscriber additions reported by Sprint compares to net losses of 220,000 during the same quarter last year. Sprint also posted net additions in postpaid wireless customers for two consecutive months – May and June — for the first time in two years, and the subscriber numbers for the second quarter mark the fifth consecutive quarter of sequential improvement.
As Son described himself as “extremely excited about the turnaround,” company executives offered details on Sprint’s “Next Generation Network” project, which involves “significant densification of the network including additional macro cell sites, deployment of tens of thousands of small cells, and further expansion of the 2.5 GHz spectrum across the company’s existing sites” to improve wireless coverage and service reliability. While anticipating further growth in postpaid subscribership, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure informed investors that Sprint’s work with parent company Softbank to establish a leasing company to finance network improvements combined with continued efforts to reduce operating expenses would allow Sprint to refrain from spectrum sales or from public offerings of the company’s debt or equity for “the foreseeable future.”