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Sprint gains subscribers amid 4th-quarter loss

Overall, the carrier adds almost 1.1 million wireless subscribers, the most additions since the first and second quarters of 2006.

Sprint Nextel's fourth quarter highlighted a company that has rebounded nicely, with almost 1.1 million net subscriber additions, including prepaid and postpaid customers. However, Sprint could have to pony up some cash to support Clearwire, the partner that runs the carrier's WiMax network.

First, the highlights. Sprint added 58,000 postpaid subscribers, 519,000 net subscribers to its brand and prepaid subscribers of 646,000 to the Virgin Mobile, Assurance Wireless, and Boost Mobile brands. Overall, Sprint added almost 1.1 million wireless subscribers--the most additions since the first and second quarters of 2006.

Postpaid churn also improved to 1.86 percent in the fourth quarter compared to 2.11 percent a year ago. Now that figure isn't anywhere near the churn figures Verizon Wireless and AT&T enjoy, but Sprint is doing something right with its value pricing.

The rub: Sprint is still losing money. The company reported a fourth quarter loss of $929 million, or 31 cents a share, on revenue of $8.3 billion, up 6 percent from a year ago. Non-GAAP earnings of 29 cents a share were a penny better than estimates.

Read more of "Sprint Q4 results, subscriber additions solid; Potential Clearwire infusion looms" at ZDNet's Between the Lines.