Sprint: Blocking AT&T T-Mobile Started our Turnaround
Insists That Deal Re-Oriented the Embattled Company
It seems like only yesterday that Sprint was a carrier on the ropes, with CEO Dan Hesse taking a relentless beating from the press, while on a very short leash with company boardmembers
. Just a few months later and Sprint is flush with Japanese cash courtesy of new owner SoftBank, on the verge of buying Clearwire, and about to seriously launch some major cities in their ongoing LTE deployment.
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse reflects over the last five rocky years
in an interview with Kevin Fitchard of GigaOM
. According to Hesse, the turning part in the entire equation was the blocking by regulators of the AT&T T-Mobile deal, which Sprint played no small part in (though AT&T shooting itself in the foot
more than a few times helped). Hesse insists the block allowed Sprint to brand themselves as more disruptive:
“The most important decision that has been made in the five years I’ve been here was the decision to fight the acquisition of T-Mobile by AT&T,” Hesse said. “It fundamentally defined the industry, which in turn defined Sprint in terms of who we are is and what our role in the industry is."
...Hesse said that the AT&T’s failed attempt to consolidate two of the Big 4 made him realize that there was no longer such a thing as the Big 4. The industry had bifurcated into the Big 2 and everybody else.
That he only realized this around the time of AT&T T-Mobile suggests Hesse either didn't know the landscape as well as he should have, or he's really just saying that they decided to use the blocked deal as a brand opportunity. Of note is the fact that Hesse says SoftBank would never have invested in Sprint if the AT&T T-Mobile deal hadn't been blocked, shooting the whole "regulation kills investment" argument in its remaining good foot:
"Investment into the U.S. wireless industry would dry up if you had a government sanctioned wireless duopoly,” Hesse said. “Softbank has said publicly it wouldn’t have invested a thousand dollars in the U.S. if that merger had gone through."
While Sprint has played pesky upstart and taken a stand on consumer issues like AT&T T-Mobile, to truly buy into them as herioc anti-duopolist you have to ignore the fact that over the last year or two they've mirrored more than a few AT&T and Verizon policies
. And while the company continues to cling to unlimited data, it's certainly not clear they won't become more like AT&T and Verizon moving forward.
Hesse's biggest strides were made in shoring up the horrible mud puddle that was their customer service after the Nextel deal, which Hesse admits was a "mistake" that failed to produce expected "synergies." Now all Hesse has to do is avoid screwing it all up, assuming SoftBank keeps him on as CEO.
Bring back unlimited for air cards Just got my dad set up with a "tri-fi" device over the weekend - cheaper, faster, 6GB/mo. instead of 5Gb/mo, but it still sucks that there is such a lack of cap choice amongst any carrier (for "mobile broadband" solutions, not just handsets). Yes, he is thinking about the 12GB/mo. plan, but that's still steep, and contains steep overages.
Would be so much nicer to have a more "landline" type data plan, especially for largely "fixed" situations. He very rarely traveled with the 3G card, and I expect the same with 4G. There is NO other hardline solution in his area, even though there are fiber lines less than 1/2 mi. away, and tons of connectivity very near by. AT&T even has a totally pointless and 'fake' "Matchstick" for where fiber should be, right at the edge of the road, which I suppose is marked for eventual corporate use, if there is ever any commercial property that comes along. The many residents in between are hosed. No cable, no AT&T. Dead zone. No hope. As if they didn't exist. So much for "rural broadband" when pockets of zero service areas like this exist (well, there is a landline capable of maybe 28.8kbps connection).
Oh well. At least it works, and works decently well even though it only gets 1 bar of service, slightly past their mapped coverage area (the rep showed us the map at the store, with precise tower location/direction/coverage/etc.).
I do hope Sprint continues to rebound. In some areas, they really do have decent service.
Oklahoma City, OK
Re: I don't think so.
said by BiggA:Tri-mode really? I suppose you are also mad they don't have analog\gsm\cdma mode phones too?
Sprint is a mess. Their 3G is horrendous. They have two 4G technologies with vastly different coverage and no tri-mode phones. They don't have coverage except for 1xRTT roaming in more than half the country.
Sprint is moving forward and shedding the old WIMAX network so there will not be an LTE\WIMAX phone. Qualcomm will not make the SOCs for that nor is it smart move to do so. Yes their build outs have been half-done but they are truly innovators and have the right stuff from both a customer and investor standpoint.
They offered the first camera phone as well as the first to offer 4G. There has been a lot of other firsts I can dig up but the point is I think people will like where they are heading.
Funding has always been the issue. Now its not.
| It would have made sense like 6 months ago when they were first launching LTE. There are still major metro areas like Boston and NYC that have WiMAX and not LTE, so Sprint subscribers there are stuck with whatever has WiMAX and not able to upgrade to the newest phones, as they would be back on their slow-as-molasses EVDO. The patchwork of coverage between LTE and WiMAX is idiotic. The least they could have done was put a big old band-aid on it for a couple of years and released a bunch of tri-mode phones.|
You'd need a whole separate set of radio gear for the WiMAX side of it, but at least you'd have usable mobile data in the big cities.
Innovator? How on earth are they an innovator? Sure, NV is cool and all, but when most of their network is a total disaster, and their coverage is horrendous, it's impossible to care.
First 4G? Great. Who cares. It was amazing at the time to see 10mbps on mobile, but at the same time, Verizon has probably 100x the EVDO coverage at a solid 1mbps.
We'll see if that funding helps them at all. Just to compete, they'd need to more than double the size of their network. If they choose to build out like Verizon they could be a huge player, given their deep spectrum assets, but I'll see it when I believe it.
Investment Of note is the fact that Hesse says SoftBank would never have invested in Sprint if the AT&T T-Mobile deal hadn't been blocked, shooting the whole "regulation kills investment" argument in its remaining good foot:
Blocking a merger is not the same thing as additional regulation on the industry. If the government had blocked the merger and then added a bunch of new regulations for Sprint to comply with, that investment from Japan may not have happened.
Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty - Ronald Reagan