Sprint drops behind T-Mobile on weak Q1 subscriber growth

Now the No. 4 US wireless carrier, Sprint ended its fiscal first quarter with 57.7 million total users -- falling just short of T-Mobile's 58.9 million.

The tug of war between US wireless carriers Sprint and T-Mobile has finally shifted direction.

Overland Park, Kansas-based Sprint said Tuesday that it ended its fiscal first quarter with 57.7 million total users -- falling just short of T-Mobile's 58.9 million. The new subscriber headcount means that Sprint now falls below T-Mobile for the No. 4 position in the ranking of top US wireless carriers.

For Q1 specifically, Sprint gained 675,000 net customers and 310,000 new postpaid customers, compared to the more than 2 million new customers joining T-Mobile.

Sprint's postpaid phone losses were 12,000, but for the first time in nearly two years the company said it recorded monthly postpaid phone net additions in May and June. The company's postpaid churn reached a record low 1.56 percent.

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As for the financials, Sprint reported a loss of $20 million, or 1 cent per share, on revenue of $8.03 billion. Wall Street was expecting a loss of 9 cents per share and revenue of $8.43 billion.

Sprint said revenue was negatively impacted by lower sales in its wireless business and as customers opted for installment billing plans, which recognize revenues over time.

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said the company has been focused on improving customer service and network performance.

"Over the past year, Sprint has made meaningful progress in our turnaround by improving our network performance and enhancing our overall value proposition," Claure said in a statement.

"We are confident in our plan to leverage our unique spectrum assets to make our network a competitive advantage, aggressively reduce operating costs and utilize our business relationships and assets to fund our turnaround."

As a result of the better-than-expected results, Sprint says it expects earnings for the current quarter to be between $7.2 billion to $7.6 billion, up from the previous forecast of $6.5 billion to $6.9 billion.

Sprint also announced several key executive changes Tuesday. The company has named former FlexiGroup CEO Tarek Robbiati as its chief financial officer, replacing Joe Euteneuer.

Sprint also named Gunther Ottendorfer chief operating officer to replace former SoftBank executive Junichi Miyakawa, who will now serve as a liaison between Softbank and Sprint. Chief network officer John Saw was promoted to chief technology officer. He will report to Ottendorfer.