Instead of launching in late 2019, Sprint announced that it is aiming to load consumers onto its mobile 5G network earlier in the year — not far behind AT&T and T-Mobile.

In its third fiscal quarter of 2017, the company reported $8.24 billion in revenues (down 3.6 percent on annual basis) with operating income of $727 million (up 134 percent). The carrier credits reverse mortgaging its cell sites for capital and its ongoing cost-cutting program taking away $260 million of expenses year-on-year minus $100 million in disaster relief from hurricanes and wildfires.

The company would have earned $104 million net income, but it got a $7.05 billion boost with new rules in the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act benefiting valuations in deferred assets and liabilities on paper.

Sprint grew its customer base by 385,000 in total with 256,000 postpaid subscriptions and 63,000 in prepaid — the company has wrapped up four consecutive quarters of prepaid growth after years of losing business. Churn, or the switch-away rate, remains relatively high for the industry at 1.8 percent postpaid.

In its earnings call, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said that the network is planning on activating 5G earlier than it had first promised, but it would come at a cost to customers with the standard $60 monthly plan jumping to $70 or even $80, in line with the competition. It would fall just behind AT&T and Verizon with late 2018 starts for their roll-outs and be alongside T-Mobile in that respect.

Claure also announced as part of the cost rollback scheme that he will be cutting more executives from the payroll — in December, seven top-level staffers reporting to the CEO were let go, leaving just nine.

In addition to all of this, there’s a potential for majority stakeholder SoftBank to buy out the remaining 17 percent of the company, but that decision would be left to the chairman of the Japanese tech conglomerate, Masayoshi Son.

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