Sprint Nextel improved customer satisfaction in the second quarter but continued to bleed high-margin contract subscribers.
The company noted that its customer support has won accolades from consultancy Frost & Sullivan, research firms Gartner and Forrester and the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
Yet it lost 228,000 subscribers, on net, during the second quarter. A 136,000-customer increase in the Sprint subscriber base was more than offset by a loss of 364,000 Nextel subscribers. In the prepaid segment, the story was the same: Nextel shed customers while Sprint gained them. In prepaid, at least, Sprint's gains outweighed Nextel's losses, and the company added 173,000 net prepaid customers.
Sprint Nextel's improving customer relations helped it reduce churn - the percentage of postpaid customers who cancel their service - to 1.85 percent, its best-ever showing. And it recently released the first phone in the country to use the next generation of wireless web technology, called 4G.
Still, only a handful of cities have 4G infrastructure in place, and it remains to be seen whether Sprint's 4G phone - the made-by-HTC Evo - will be as popular as AT&T's Apple ( AAPL ) iPhone or Verizon's Motorola Droid.
By Steve Monfort
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