February 8, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka
Sprint today announced results for the fourth quarter and full financial year of 2011. The third-ranked U.S. carrier added 1.6 million net new subscribers in Q4, reaching its highest level of customers ever – a total of 55 million.
The Now Network still suffered a net loss of $1.3 billion because of expenses and investments related to launching the iPhone and investing in Clearwire, the company that built the 4G WiMax network Sprint uses (Sprint owns a majority share of Clearwire but it operates as an independent company).
Sprint will spend even more of that money later this year as the company builds its 4G LTE network. Sprint expects to have LTE in select markets beginning in mid 2012. Today, the company added Baltimore and Kansas City to the list of cities that can expect to see a new 4G LTE network and enhanced 3G service this year. That brings the total number of launch markets to six, including Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.
The first 4G devices will be the previously-covered Samsung Galaxy Nexus and LG Viper. It will be interesting to see if either device will convince Sprint subscribers to opt for Android instead of the iPhone, a proposition most don’t embrace these days. Of the 1.8 million iPhones sold in the fourth quarter, 60 percent were from existing customers. Those subscribers previously would have chosen between Sprint’s top Android handsets. The lack of 4G on the current iPhone didn’t deter customers, so the lack of LTE on the next version probably won’t either.