Sprint Nextel cannot stem the tide of subscriber decline. In the fourth quarter of 2008 a further 1.3 million total customers, including 1.1 million post-paid and 314,000 pre-paid abandoned the carrier. However, there was an increase of 146,000 wholesale and affiliate customers and its Boost Mobile unit claims it has added six times more subscribers than it lost since the rollout of its unlimited plan in mid-January. Churn was almost flat at 2.16% for the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to 2.15% in the third quarter and 2.29% a year ago. Sprint ended the year with 49.3 million total subscribers compared to 53.8 million at the end of 2007. Post-paid average revenue per user (ARPU) was USD56 in the quarter, down 4% year-on-year, while pre-paid ARPU was USD30 in the three months to 31 December 2008 compared to USD28 a year ago.
The company reported a USD1.6 billion loss in the three months to 31 December 2008 compared to the same period last year when Sprint reported a loss of USD29.3 billion mainly attributed to a USD29 billion write-down to purchase Nextel. Looking forward, the carrier said it expects both post-paid and total subscriber losses to improve and full-year capital expenditures to be consistent with 2008 levels, excluding WiMAX.