Ericsson will take over the day-to-day network operations from Sprint Nextel today, according to Johan Bjorklund, Ericsson's vice president of managed services.
"We're taking over engineering, deployment, provisioning and everything around operations and execution," he said in an interview with FierceWireless. "What that means is that Ericsson will essentially be the company coming to all of the [cell] sites."
The seven-year, $5 billion outsourcing deal between Sprint and Ericsson shocked the industry despite months of rumors on the topic. As part of the agreement, Sprint retains control of network decisions, customer experience and customer technical support.
Ericsson has over 100 similar network management contracts globally covering a total of 275 million subscribers. But Ericsson's deal with Sprint, announced in July, is a landmark because it is the first of its kind in North America. The region's Tier 1 wireless operators have traditionally eschewed relinquishing control of their network operations, which is regarded as both a strategic resource and source of brand identity.
Bjorklund said that Ericsson is trying to maintain stability during the transition process. Over time, he said, Ericsson will bring in new tools and processes that leverage the company's $1 billion investments in global managed services. "But this is not like flicking a switch, where all of sudden we do everything the Ericsson way," he said. Bjorklund said that Ericsson would be looking at best practices to integrate into its operations as part of a gradual evolution.
"It's a constant transformation program we're running in the background over the entire seven years," he said.
Bjorklund will be giving a keynote address at the PCIA wireless infrastructure show in Nashville on Wednesday.
Questions, concerns surround Sprint-Ericsson tie-up
Sprint inks $5B network outsourcing deal with Ericsson
Sprint in 'final negotiations' on Ericsson outsourcing
Report: Sprint, Ericsson sign $2B network outsourcing deal
Analyst: Sprint network outsourcing deal not 'imminent'
Report: Sprint to outsource network management to Ericsson