Sprint's Hesse defends iPhone deal, takes a whack at Verizon, AT&T

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) CEO Dan Hesse said more must be done to combat the entrenched positions of Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) at the top of the market. He also said that he is open to consolidation--as long as the two largest carriers are not gobbling up smaller players.

Sprint Dan Hesse

Hesse

"We're certainly working very hard to compete with AT&T and Verizon," Hesse said at a briefing for reporters at the company's headquarters in Overland Park, Kan., according to Phone Scoop. "The industry has to deal with the issue of the duopoly. The gap between the No. 2 and No. 3 players is enormous. We always have been and always will be open to further consolidation, as long as it isn't AT&T or Verizon Wireless."

Hesse touched on several major initiatives and challenges for Sprint, including its decision to ink a four-year, $15.5 billion deal with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to sell the iPhone. Hesse acknowledged the size of the commitment and that Sprint looked at the economics, but said that it was the right call to make because "you really don't want to be on the outside," and not have the iPhone, according to AllThingsD. He said Sprint looked at the iPhone's popularity and "we saw no reason to bet against Apple." Sprint has sold 4.8 million iPhones since it started selling the device last fall. 

The Sprint chief also talked about the company's Network Vision network modernization plans and Sprint's recent LTE deployment. While he said Sprint made the right decision from a brand perspective to get behind Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network so that it could market 4G, it is moving ahead with LTE. He also said that Clearwire's forthcoming TDD-LTE network, due to be launched by the middle of next year, is an "essential" part of the company's plans.

He noted that Sprint needs Clearwire for excess LTE capacity since it "would run out of capacity sometime in roughly a couple years, including our 800 [MHz] and 1900 [MHz bands]," according to The Verge

Customer service also was a topic of discussion, and Sprint's improvement in customer care is a point of pride for Hesse. In May Sprint topped the charts in terms of customer satisfaction, according to a report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Hesse said that by improving customer service Sprint was able to close call centers due to fewer calls coming and reduce credits to customers.

"Great customer service costs less," Hesse said. "When we were last in the industry, we were spending twice as much."

For more:
- see this Phone Scoop article
- see this The Verge article
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this separate AllThingsD article

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