Cricket Communications’ parent Leap Wireless International continued to lose customers during the third quarter despite the introduction of the iPhone 5 and new price plans.
The no-contract carrier lost 269,000 net customers as churn rose a full percentage point to 4.8 percent, contributing to a 2 percent decline in its customer base.
Leap now has 5.6 million customers, down from 5.75 million last year.
President and CEO Doug Hutcheson said the company was in a “transition” period and maintained that its new initiatives would eventually pay off.
“We believe that the new initiatives that are being introduced will enhance the customer experience, improve our customer value proposition and drive improvements to churn,” he said.
During the third quarter, Leap launched its Cricket Lifeline service in 11 states, introduced the iPhone 5 and three new Android devices, added its Muve Music service to all its Android smartphone plans and debuted a prepaid service at RadioShack.
Part of its growth plan includes “alternatives” to expanding its tiny LTE network beyond Las Vegas and Tucson, Ariz., the only markets where it is currently available.
Leap is “exploring cost-effective ways to deliver LTE services to additional customers, which may include deploying facilities-based coverage and/or entering into possible partnerships or joint ventures with others,” it said.
The network is slated to cover 21 million people by the end of this year, a fraction of its competitor’s LTE coverage. Verizon Wireless’ LTE network currently covers more than 250 million people and AT&T plans to meet that number with its own LTE service by the end of next year.
Despite the grim customer numbers, Leap swung to a $25 million profit from last year’s $69 million loss on the sale of spectrum to Verizon, which gave a $130 million boost to operating income.
Sales inched up to $774 million and ARPU rose slightly to $41.94.