Sprint's about-face on Pivot


Sprint's about-face on Pivot

Pivot--the much-hailed $200 million joint venture between Sprint and cable companies Comcast, Time Warner, Cable, Cox Communications and Brighthouse Networks-appears to be in trouble. The joint venture-which had aspirations to offer consumers the elusive quad-play by providing them with a combination of wireless, fixed, video and Internet services from one provider with one bill-is currently offered in 33 markets and can be purchased in about 20 percent of Sprint's retail stores. But don't expect to see it grow beyond its current coverage area or achieve broader distribution any time soon.

During Sprint's third quarter earnings call yesterday, it was quietly revealed by CFO Paul Saleh that Pivot is plagued by provisioning issues and Sprint has decided to not expand the service into other markets or offer it in more retail stores. 

Specifically, Saleh said that Sprint is focusing on simplifying its business and therefore has decided not to expand Pivot. He added that Pivot is difficult to provision and deliver to customers in a timely and simple manner. However, he added that the company's relationship with the cable joint venture is still strong and that they are looking at ways to simplify the offering. 

I'm not surprised that Sprint and the cable joint venture have had difficulty provisioning this offering. When I spoke with the Pivot executives over a year ago, they talked about how difficult it was to integrate the different billing systems, particularly since cable and wireless bills have different types of details.

And Pivot has yet to live up to its aspirations. When it was first conceived by the various partners, the vision was to have this hybrid offering that not only merged billing and customer care but also incorporated entertainment services such as video and DVR services. That certainly hasn't happened.

Several analysts have also questioned Pivot's potential conflict with Sprint's WiMAX network rollout. By going after residential broadband customers with its WiMAX high-speed offering, Xohm will likely go head-to-head with its Pivot partners.

I suspect this recent decision by Sprint to not expand its Pivot markets is a sign that Pivot's future and the joint venture with the cable companies may be doomed. -Sue

P.S. We have some excellent speakers and panels planned for our upcoming Wireless Voice conference in San Francisco Nov. 13-14. Don't miss out on keynotes from Tony Saigh, head of business development, mobile operators at Skype, Dave Hagan, president and CEO of Boingo and Greg Young, vice president, engineering & product management at Qualcomm QChat. Click here to see the full agenda.