Sprint may close call centers to cut costs

Sprint Nextel, as it looks to cut costs, said calls to its call centers could decline 20 percent next year and the company might halve the number of call centers it has, according to Sprint's Chief Service Officer Bob Johnson.

Johnson said the company will be closing the call centers because wireless service is improving, but it could also be because its subscriber base is declining. In the third quarter Sprint lost 1.3 million subscribers and its base declined to 50.5 million, which was the lowest the company had reported since the first quarter of 2006.

Analysts have speculated recently about whether the company will cut jobs in the first part of 2009 and how large the job cuts will be. Walter Piecyk, an analyst at Pali Research, recently said he expected there to be "significant" job cuts at Sprint in January. CFO Bob Brust recently said "everything's on the table" as Sprint looks to cut costs and pay down its debt.

Sprint's voluntary separation package for some of its employees, which it offered in mid-November, expired a week ago. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has not commented on any possible job cuts, preferring to wait until the company's fourth quarter results are finalized before making any decisions.

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