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Sprint is back — the fourth largest carrier posted strong growth, beating AT&T

Why it matters to you

While Sprint has long lagged behind the other big three carriers, a recent turnaround suggests consumers are giving the firm another look.

Verizon’s former “Can you hear me now?” guy knows how to push a cellphone service. After the spokesman turned on his former meal ticket and signed with Sprint, the latter service has made a serious turnaround. Sprint announced during its fiscal third-quarter report on Tuesday that it added 405,000 net new post-paid subscribers, 368,000 of whom were phone customers, marking Sprint’s highest growth rate in four years.

While the company still stands as the fourth-largest wireless carrier (behind Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T), its latest numbers represent more robust growth than anticipated, which was actually attributed to a range of promotions the carrier offered. In 2015, Sprint announced that it sought to shave up to $2.5 billion from fiscal 2016 expenses by way of layoffs and cost controls. Add in an effective new ad campaign, and it looks like the firm’s new direction is working.

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“Sprint is turning the corner,” Chief Executive Marcelo Claure said in a statement. “Even with all the aggressive promotional offers from our competitors, we were still able to add more postpaid phone customers than both Verizon and AT&T.” Net losses stood at $479 million, down significantly from $836 million just one year earlier. And Sprint’s net operating revenue rose to $8.55 billion, which exceeded analysts’ estimates of $8.27 billion.

While T-Mobile also posted strong customer growth numbers in its latest report, Verizon’s increase was a bit more anemic, and AT&T reported losses in postpaid phone customers (i.e. non-prepaid subscribers). “Even in a highly competitive quarter with multiple promotional offers from its competitors, Sprint was able to report its highest postpaid phone net additions in four years,” the service provider noted, and added that “The company also remained postpaid net port positive for the third quarter in a row and had its highest postpaid phone gross additions in four years.”

Updated by Ryan Waniata at 1-31-2017 at 12:21 a.m. PST: Sprint’s spokesperson actually started with Verizon, not the reverse as was first indicated.