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UPDATE 1-Sprint loses more phone subscribers than feared

(Adds details; Compares with estimates)

May 7 (Reuters) - Wireless carrier Sprint Corp on Tuesday reported greater-than-feared losses in phone subscribers who pay a monthly bill, as the company struggled to keep customers from going to larger rivals.

Sprint said it lost a net 189,000 phone subscribers during the fourth quarter. Analysts were expecting a net loss of 117,000, according to research firm FactSet.

Sprint and T-Mobile U.S. Inc are awaiting regulatory approval on their merger, which is expected to help Sprint boost its investments in 5G network and shed the negative perception of its network quality.

Net loss attributable to Sprint was $2.17 billion, or 53 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended March 31, compared with net income of $69 million, or 2 cents per share, a year earlier.

Total net operating revenue rose 4.4 percent to $8.44 billion. Analysts had expected revenue of $8.21 billion.

(Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru and Angela Moon in New York; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)