Matt Carter first made a name for himself as the head of Sprint's Boost Mobile division, where his astute market instincts propelled Boost to the top of the prepaid, flat-rate wireless segment. Carter was in charge of Boost when the division launched its $50 per month unlimited voice and data plan over the firm's iDEN network.
The move sparked competitors to revamp their unlimited rate plans and caused new entrants to jump into the game. In addition, the popularity of Boost revitalized Sprint, and prompted the company to open 50 more Boost retail outlets in 2009.
Now Sprint is hoping Carter will bring that same savvy strategy to the company's 4G unit. Sprint, which is a wholesale customer and majority owner of Clearwire, has been rolling out its own Sprint 4G-branded service in Clearwire's mobile WiMAX markets. Clearwire plans to launch 80 markets, covering 120 million POPs, by the end of 2010.
Sprint has been hitting the 4G message very hard. At the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, the company announced a 3G/WiMAX mobile hotspot from Sierra Wireless called the Overdrive. The device connects up to five WiFi-enabled devices--including smartphones operating on other carrier networks--at the same time. Sprint is hoping the device serves as a viable substitute to WiMAX phones that aren't likely to hit the market until year-end.
Carter, who started his new gig last week, has a big challenge ahead. He is tasked with making sure Sprint distinguishes itself from its competition in the mobile broadband space. And those competitors aren't just the other wireless carriers, but also cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner, which also are launching services using Clearwire's WiMAX network.