updated 04:40 pm EST, Fri January 21, 2011
Sprint may have added users first time in 3 years
Sprint may have seen its first absolute increase in contract subscribers for the past three years if The CDMA carrier started regaining users last year but has largely been limited to prepaid customers and better than usual losses among its contract users.
Almost all of the gain could be credited to Sprint's improved performance with Android. The Evo 4G was credited for improved health last spring but has since been backed by several more Android devices, such as Samsung's Epic 4G and Transform, the Kyocera Zio and the LG Optimus S.
The analysts doubted that Sprint would keep the momentum. Along with the typical post-holiday drop, Sprint will now have to face a wider loss of exclusivity on 4G level speeds as well as the Verizon iPhone. The AT&T model has already been blamed for a significant drain on Sprint's customers, but the Verizon model carries an added risk from customers who wanted an iPhone but refused to switch to AT&T. Sprint has remained unusually silent on iPhone prospects and may not have the Apple phone until after Verizon is ready.
Verizon is expected by the research pool to add 646,000 subscribers this winter, but the count may not have completely factored in the CDMA iPhone's launch on February 10.