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4G/3G/WiFi

Sprint goes out with a bang

Sprint gained 502,000 postpaid customers during the first quarter of 2020, far ahead of most Wall Street analyst expectations. And the company's performance in the prepaid market was also much better than expected.

More importantly, some analysts believe the release of the company's first-quarter metrics could reflect the imminent close of Dish Network's purchase of Sprint's Boost prepaid business.

However, there are plenty of caveats to all this. First, T-Mobile closed its merger with Sprint on April 1, which essentially marked the end of Sprint's journey as a standalone company. T-Mobile quietly released Sprint's Q1 performance in an SEC filing Friday, warning that "these customer results have been calculated based on the subscriber reporting policies of Sprint prior to the merger. As a result, it is not indicative of future results of T-Mobile as a combined company, and the customer results presented here will end up being materially lower once T-Mobile reporting policies are applied and Sprint Prepaid brands are divested."

T-Mobile is scheduled to report its own full first-quarter results May 6.

Further, most of Sprint's postpaid additions during the first quarter were due to the 850,000 "data device net additions" it notched during the period – those gadgets are likely Internet of Things devices that typically carry low revenues per user. When those gadgets are stripped out of Sprint's overall postpaid numbers, the company actually lost 348,000 regular phone customers during the first quarter.

As for Sprint's prepaid business in the first quarter, the company reported net losses of 10,000 customers during the period, a figure narrowed from the 20,000 customers it lost in the same quarter a year ago and much better than the loss of 89,000 prepaid customers that Wall Street analysts had expected from the company.

Finally, according to the Wall Street analysts at Raymond James, Sprint ended the period with a total of 9.21 million Boost prepaid customers – those are the customers that Dish Network agreed to purchase last year in a transaction that will position Dish to become the nation's second-largest MVNO.

"This surprise pre-release of just Sprint subs suggests we may indeed be seeing the divestiture sale of Boost to Dish for $1.4 billion very soon!" wrote the analysts at Raymond James in a note to investors Friday.

Indeed, Dish officials just last month confirmed to Light Reading the company is preparing to acquire Sprint's Boost customers.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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