Mobile carrier Sprint has to be celebrating somewhat as its first-quarter fiscal report reveals a net income of $23 million, reversing 27 straight quarterly losses dating back to 2007.

Both revenue and net income exceeded analysts' expectations. Revenue was reported at $8.8 billion, down slightly from same time last year but a bit higher than was projected.

Sprint endured a challenging year as customer retention suffered due to a complete network overhaul and upgrade that is nearing completion. The program involved converting obsolete 3G networks into new industry-standard 4G LTE coverage. During the transition, though, many Sprint customers experienced dropped calls and loss of coverage in total, leading to subscriber losses.

"We reached several key milestones for the company this quarter, including largely completing a multiyear project to upgrade our core 3G and voice network, expanding 4G LTE coverage to approximately 254 million people and launching nationwide availability of HD Voice," said Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO. "Our complete network replacement impacted the network experience, so we lost customers last quarter."

Overall, Sprint's reported results did not impress analysts, who agreed that the company is far from being out of the woods and is still not in an advantageous position with its competitors.

"It's not as horrible as people feared," said Roger Entner, lead analyst at Recon Analytics, referring to the results of Sprint's report. "The company has done better than the really pessimistic expectations, but it is still not doing well."

"It has to get better soon because they should be at the tail end of their network overhaul. At the same time, T-Mobile is showing dramatic growth," Entner added.

Even the subscriber loss mentioned by Hesse proved to be a less drastic amount than analysts predicted; 181,000 contract subscribers were lost, mostly to collateral damage from the network overhaul -- far below original estimates of 293,000.

Sprint has enjoyed some success with its Framily plan, which competes with the current groupthink plans offered by competitors. The more-the-merrier plans offer multiple lines at ever-increasing discounts and big gobs of data to duck those overage charges. Sprint's Framily plan is so named because it is open to friends as well as family members in an effort to add subscribers per plan.

"Good subscriber numbers would be a surprising sign that Framily is working better than people expected," said Colby Synesael, an analyst with Cowen & Co. in New York. His comments came prior to Sprint's release of its quarterly report.

Sprint's tepid performance continues to concern its Japan-based owner, SoftBank Corp. SoftBank sees a solution in fomenting a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile to form a third wireless carrier in the U.S. that would have more competitive leverage against AT&T and Verizon.

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