Sprint on Tuesday posted a fourth-quarter net loss of US$1.04 billion, but CEO Dan Hesse presided over an upbeat results call, in which he outlined the telco's priorities going forward and reiterated calls for consolidation in the U.S. mobile market.
The U.S. operator's net loss was an improvement on the year-ago period. In addition, it included a hefty $1.53 billion in depreciation and amortisation costs related to the shutdown of the Nextel network last year and some impact from its recently-announced workforce reduction plan.
Sprint reported net customer additions of 477,000, compared with a loss of 337,000 a year ago, although for the full year net customer losses came in at 2.29 million and Hesse admitted that the telco is not out of the woods just yet when it comes to churn.
The telco's ongoing network modernisation programme "is impacting customer satisfaction with Sprint," Hesse said, noting that the project is due to be completed by mid-year.
"[I expect] overall postpaid churn to remain elevated in the first half of 2014 and show gradual improvement in the second half," the CEO said.
Customer experience was one of three priorities Hesse listed for Sprint, the other two being cash generation and strengthening its brand.
But the key questions on the results call focused on recent rumours that Sprint, its Japanese parent Softbank, and T-Mobile US have been holding talks over a possible merger.
"I read in the newspapers that we were going to announce a transaction today!" Hesse joked.
He declined to comment on those particular rumours, but reiterated his previous stance on the benefits of M&A in the U.S.
"I believe that further consolidation in the U.S. wireless industry...outside of AT&T and Verizon because they are so large, would be healthy," and would improve the competitive dynamic in the market, he said.
"It would be better for the country and better for consumers," he added. "I still believe that that's very much the case."