Sprint (NYSE: S) confirmed to FierceWireless that CTO Stephen Bye will leave the company effective July 24 to "pursue other personal opportunities." The company did not immediately give any further details, including how Bye's departure will impact the carrier's network densification efforts and whether it would restructure its executive team.
Bye joined Sprint in 2011 from Cox Communications, shortly before Cox gave up on its wireless network buildout and sold its spectrum. Bye joined Sprint as the company's VP of technology development, reporting to Steve Elfman, then Sprint's president of network operations and wholesale.
However, Bye quickly rose through the ranks to become Sprint's CTO in charge of the carrier's overall network strategy.
Bye's departure from Sprint is just the latest in a long line of executive turnovers among the ranks of Sprint's network team. Last year, Iyad Tarazi, Sprint's vice president of network technology development and integration; Steve Elfman, president of network operations; and Bob Azzi, the carrier's senior vice president of networks, all left the company. Late last year, following SoftBank's acquisition of Sprint, Sprint appointed SoftBank executive Junichi Miyakawa to the newly created position of Sprint Technical Chief Operating Officer. He reports directly to Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. Miyakawa previously led SoftBank's network operations, which--like Sprint--rely heavily on TD-LTE technology using 2.5 GHz spectrum.
When Sprint announced Miyakawa's appointment, the company said that Bye and John Saw, Sprint's chief network officer, would continue to lead their organizations at Sprint but would report to Miyakawa. Sprint said Miyakawa would oversee the company's network and technology organization, including associated strategy, network operations and performance. Interestingly, Sprint said he will also lead the carrier's relationships with key network equipment vendors--Sprint outsources much of its network operations to Ericsson in a $5 billion, seven-year deal the companies signed in 2009.
Bye has worked through several network overhauls at Sprint. In 2011, Sprint announced its "Network Vision" program to launch LTE and improve its CDMA network. And earlier this year the company announced its new, massive network densification strategy, called the "Sprint Next Generation Network," which, according to analysts at Macquarie Capital, will be heavily focused on small cells and using three-carrier carrier aggregation technology in the 2.5 GHz band.
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