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Sprint's Customer-Losing Streak Intact

Sprint, the No. 3 wireless shop, only lost 107,000 contract customers.



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3-year customer losing streak remained intact and losses nearly doubled in the third quarter as heavy phone subsidies took a toll.

Riding on the popularity of


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Android phones and a unique 4G network push, the No. 3 wireless carrier managed to lose only 107,000 post-paid or contract customers in the most recent quarter.

But the continued flight of


customers -- 383,000 quit the service in the third quarter -- made a dent in cash flow and total subscriber numbers. The free cash flow in the quarter fell 42% to $384 million from $664 million a year ago.

Sprint also took on heavier than expected losses in the quarter. Losses widened 91% to $911 million from the $478 million loss in the year-ago period. That translated to a net loss of 30 cents a share, a disappointment to analysts expecting a 28 cent loss. Sales for the quarter were $8.1 billion, slightly above year-ago levels and roughly in line with analysts' estimates.

Despite the popularity of Sprint's Android-powered


EVO and


Epic, the company still failed to reverse the nagging customer erosion trend that has seen more than 5.6 million subscribers leave the service over the past three years.

The defection rate is largely due to the failed merger of Nextel and the appeal of the


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iPhone at


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and the assortment of Droids and

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BlackBerries at


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Investors were not impressed. Sprint shares were down 3% in pre-market trading Wednesday.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.>To contact this writer, click here: Scott Moritz, or email: follow Scott on Twitter, go to>To send a tip, email: