While Apple announced another record-breaking quarter yesterday, U.S. mobile carrier Sprint reported a significant net loss of $863 million – nearly twice the loss that it reported for the same quarter last year. iPhone sales, however, helped increase Sprint’s overall subscriber base – making this the eighth consecutive quarter where the company reported overall growth.
Sprint noted that it sold 1.5 million iPhones, down slightly from the holiday quarter’s 1.8 million sales.
Of those 1.5 million iPhones, 44% (660,000) were to new customers. Given that Sprint posted an overall net growth of just 263,000 postpaid subscribers, this means that the company would’ve had a net loss of about 400,000 postpaid customers if it weren’t for those additional new iPhone subscribers.
While the iPhone was a strong seller for Sprint, the company’s prepaid brands (Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile) were also showing strong growth, with 870,000 prepaid net subscriber additions and 785,000 wholesale and affiliate net subscriber additions. That trend may continue as prepaid smartphone options improve.
A large portion of the company’s losses were related to shutting down the company’s outdated Nextel platform, which amounted to a depreciation of $543 million.
Sprint saw one-time net benefit of $170 million, or approximately $.06 per share, related to the spectrum hosting contract termination with LightSquared and its proposed satellite-based 4G service.
Overall, Sprint ended the quarter with wireless revenues of $7.2 billion – an increase of more than 7% over last year and a total customer base of 56 million subscribers.
Looking ahead, the company plans to roll out LTE service to six new markets (Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Atlanta, Kansas City and Baltimore) by mid-year.
Although Sprint hasn’t voiced any plans for selling an LTE iPad, expansion of LTE service as the carrier transitions from its WiMax 4G infrastructure could lead to that as a possible market later this year. Certainly, LTE will be an important factor for buyers of the next iPhone, which will almost certainly include LTE.