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.
LAS VEGAS--Sprint CTO Stephen Bye said that 2014 "is the year" for the nation's No. 3 wireless carrier. He said Sprint this year will complete its Network Vision LTE network upgrade and modernization project, and that it would roll out its high-speed "Sprint Spark" service to at least 100 million POPs.
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse acknowledged that the carrier is still working through its Network Vision network upgrade, and that as it replaces equipment to improve its network, customers will see degradations in service and Sprint will see higher churn as a result. However, he said that Sprint's tri-mode LTE service, dubbed "Sprint Spark," which is just getting underway, will provide the kind of speed differentiation that will set Sprint apart.
Sprint indicated that its Sprint Spark tri-mode LTE service is up and running Chicago, and the carrier touted the network improvements it has made in the market, in what could be a prelude to a wider marketing campaign about its network.
Sprint announced it will brand its forthcoming tri-mode LTE service as "Sprint Spark," and said it will bring the service to the top 100 U.S. markets during the next three years with speeds capable of reaching 50-60 Mbps and perhaps faster.
Sprint posted its first quarterly net profit since 2007 in the third quarter under new ownership of Japanese parent SoftBank. However, the carrier still lost subscribers as the hangover from its shutdown of the Nextel network at the end of the second quarter continued to hurt its results.
Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer said the carrier remains open to using its multi-mode base stations to host another company's spectrum, provided such a deal was beneficial to both parties.
Sprint plans to finish its deployment of its Network Vision network equipment by the middle of 2014, later than it had previously indicated, according to a securities filing.