Sprint adds 1 million subscribers, posts higher revenues and losses

Sprint Nextel Corp. said it added nearly 1.1 million new subscribers on its way to higher revenues and higher losses in the first quarter.

Its customer growth included the sale of 1.5 million iPhones, 44 percent of which involved new subscribers. Sprint said its total customer count rose to 56 million at the end of March.

Sprint’s loss in the quarter totaled $863 million, or 29 cents a share, up from $439 million, or 15 cents a share, in he same three months of last year.

Revenues in the first three months of the year were $8.7 billion, a 5 percent increase from a year earlier. The bump came partly from higher average revenues from customers who are under two-year service contracts.

The company continues to shed customers from its Nextel network, which is being shut down as part of Sprint’s multi-billion-dollar network upgrade.

Although many Nextel customers are moving to the company’s Sprint network, the departures cut into the total number of Sprint customers under contract during the quarter. These higher-revenue customers fell by 192,000 in the quarter after increasing by 162,000 in the last three months of 2011.

Sprint’s net subscriber gains came from its prepaid customers, who buy service from month to month and generate less revenue for the company.