Sprint is likely going to report brutal subscriber losses in the second quarter, according to financial analysts. That will be largely the result of Sprint's 3G CDMA network upgrade, which has temporarily resulted in degraded service as the carrier works to improve coverage, call quality and network speeds. In response, the analysts said, Sprint will likely cut prices in the near term to remain competitive.
Sprint will need to roll out an additional 30,000-40,000 transmission sites if the carrier wants its 2.5 GHz TD-LTE network to reach coverage parity with its 1.9 GHz networks, according to the head of American Tower.
Sprint is bringing its new "America's Newest Network" advertising campaign to major markets including Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and elsewhere, and is touting "faster speeds, better call quality and fewer dropped calls" in an effort to generate interest in its newly overhauled CDMA network and its growing LTE network.
In 2013 Sprint CEO Dan Hesse had probably his busiest year at the helm of the carrier since he came on board in late 2007, and the company handsomely rewarded him for his efforts. Hesse scored a total compensation package of $49 million in 2013, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That figure is far above Hesse's 2012 compensation and made him easily the highest-paid executive in the wireless industry last year.
Sprint's shakeup of its network executive team is continuing, with longtime Sprint executive Iyad Tarazi leaving the company. His departure comes just weeks after Sprint announced that Steve Elfman, president of network operations, and Bob Azzi, the carrier's senior vice president of networks, would be leaving the company.
Sprint, the nation's third largest wireless operator, is largely finished with the mammoth Network Vision network modernization project it started more than three years ago. The result, however, is an LTE service that only covers around 200 million people and is, by most measurements, the nation's slowest. Compare this to T-Mobile, which covered roughly the same number of people with LTE in half the time as Sprint with speeds that often rank at or near the top. And T-Mobile is enjoying significant momentum thanks to its "uncarrier" branding. Nonetheless, Sprint executives are arguing that 2014 is "th e year" for Sprint. I think that remains to be seen.
Sprint's management and the wider company is in line with the thinking of its hard-charging chairman, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son--contrary to a recent report of friction between Son and some Sprint executives, according to Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer.
Sprint's team of technology and networks executives is receiving a major shakeup, with Steve Elfman, president of network operations at Sprint, and Bob Azzi, the carrier's senior vice president of networks, leaving the company. Meantime, John Saw, Clearwire's former CTO, has been promoted to Chief Network Officer of Sprint. Saw had previously been Sprint's senior vice president of technical architecture.
Sprint's subscriber numbers were bolstered by a surge in tablet activations, which Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer attributed to a variety of factors, including Sprint's introduction of installment pricing for tablets last fall and its holiday promotions.
Sprint added 477,000 customers in the fourth quarter, defying analysts' expectations that it would lose subscribers. However, after posting its first quarterly net profit since 2007 in the third quarter, the company swung back into the red in the fourth quarter with a loss of $1.04 billion.