2016 has simply not been Sprint's year. The Now Network has been reshaping their network, putting out some great advertisements, and even running crazy leaseback operations to get some spare cash for debt payment and network buildout, but they just can't seem to catch a break. On the heels of a somewhat decent Q3, market research firm BTIG is knocking down their previous prediction of Sprint's net postpaid adds for the quarter, and predicting more churn. While these market watchers' predictions aren't always the most accurate, they're usually pretty useful for spotting trends, and the trend for Sprint lately has been decisively and undoubtedly a downward one.
According to BTIG, Sprint's figures have largely been eaten into by increasingly powerful sales on T-Mobile's part, as well as Verizon still having the carrier exclusive on Google's phenomenally reviewed Pixel phones. While these factors certainly played a part, there were certainly other elements at work. One of the big reasons that Sprint has been seeing losses lately has been their promotional offering to cut switchers' bills in half. With all of the things that were coming together to bring Sprint's subscriber count and ARPU down, BTIG has put Sprint's estimated net postpaid additions down by some 40%, to 372,000, and gross add growth has shot down from 15.2% down to 1.7%.
According to Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, the 50% off promotion will likely be dropped in the near future. Claure stated that the plan has proven popular in the short term, but recently, a growing number of customers come to Sprint not looking to have their old plan at half the price, but to go all-in on Sprint's unlimited data option. Axing this promotion would likely lose Sprint only a small amount of subscriber growth, while raising total ARPU significantly, since the promotional plans account for a good amount of the dip in the company's current ARPU. If Claure's prediction comes true, then the whole thing will balance itself out, and Sprint will have a clear path toward improved growth in all areas. While they probably won't be reclaiming the #3 spot from T-Mobile any time soon, the Now Network might just have a pretty decent 2017 to look forward to, if they play their cards right.