Sprint Adds 1 Million Accounts, But Not Because Of Price-Slashing Or Free Data

In recent months, Sprint has been trying to lure customers away from AT&T and Verizon by offering to cut their bills in half (or really only about 20%), along with introducing smartphone data plans that give away tons of data that most people will never get around to using. And today, the company announced that it added nearly 1 million net accounts during the most recent quarter, but the fine print shows that these subscribers weren’t the ones targeted by Sprint’s marketing.

The good news for Sprint and its investors is that 410,000 of the net 967,000 new accounts in this quarter were prepaid customers who are much more lucrative for wireless providers because they pay upfront for their devices and are generally less of a drain on a company’s human resources like customer service and billing.

The biggest chunk of Sprint’s new customers came via the wholesale market, where Sprint sells access to its network to wireless service resellers. Unlike the prepaid accounts, wholesale sales result in thinner profit margins.

Though Sprint claims that it recently saw “the highest number of postpaid gross additions in three years,” the net result of those additions was only 30,000 new customers, representing about .05% of the company’s estimated 56 million accounts.

An optimist would point out that any positive growth for Sprint is good, especially since the company lost 336,000 postpaid customers only a quarter earlier.

One question is whether these new customers will stay with Sprint. Another big question is how much Sprint is paying — through increased marketing and promotional programs — to obtain these customers.

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