Sprint's Hesse: call centers may close, but panic will not reign

Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse said the carrier may close up to 20 call centers this year in an effort to cut costs, and while there may be more job cuts in store for the beleaguered operator, the company will not panic and enter into a price war with its competitors.

Speaking at Citi's Annual Global Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications Conference in Phoenix, Hesse said there might be other "headcount" reductions in store but did not mention any specific forecasts.

"What 2008 shows is you can improve your performance, your operating performance, by getting very disciplined around care and cut costs," Hesse said. The carrier had previously disclosed that it would look to close call centers. 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. Hesse has said he would not make any official announcements about future job cuts until the company reports its fourth quarter earnings and subscriber figures.

Hesse also said that the carrier, the third largest behind Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility, would not "pull the price lever" in an effort to fight its competition.

"The key for us is not to panic," Hesse said. "We are making progress. It does take time. We do not want to do unnatural things to stimulate gross adds if it doesn't make sense from a profitability perspective. That's why it's going to take some time. It's not going to happen overnight."  

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