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10/30/2009
09:09 AM
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Sprint Nextel Subscribers Dwindling

To counter losses, the carrier is betting on Android handsets and a plan to roll out WiMax through Clearwire.

The shrinking of its most valuable subscriber base continued at Sprint Nextel as the company said it lost 801,000 postpaid subscribers in its third period. Financial losses grew to $478 million from $326 million in the year-earlier quarter and revenue fell 9% to $8.04 billion.

In recent months, the company has introduced a brace of smartphones and moved to improve its customer service operation, but competitors -- particularly AT&T and Verizon Wireless -- have been signing up disgruntled Sprint subscribers.

Reaching for some good news, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said the company is working to "manage costs rigorously," while moving to continue to improve its customer care operation. In a statement, Hesse said: "We expect to see sequential quarterly improvement in both post-paid and total net subscriber loses in the fourth quarter of 2009."

To counter the loss of monthly postpaid customers, Sprint has been pushing its prepaid marketing campaign through its Boost Mobile operation and its recent acquisition of Virgin Mobile for $483 million. The company also has a big investment in Clearwire, which has launched a new campaign to spread WiMax connectivity in many U.S. regions. Sprint has a 51% ownership stake in Clearwire.

Like Motorola, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless, Sprint is betting heavily on a Google Android handset, in Sprint's case, the Hero touchscreen and the Samsung Moment. The company got a leg up on the competition recently when it acquired exclusive rights to market the Palm Pre phone. However, the exclusive deal will soon come to an end and other firms are expected to begin selling the Pre.


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