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Sprint: Blocking AT&T T-Mobile Started our Turnaround
Insists That Deal Re-Oriented the Embattled Company
by Karl Bode 04:28PM Monday Dec 17 2012
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.

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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.

topics flat nest 


Turnaround or not, Sprint is a mess.

Ai Otsukaholic

Re: Sprint

But with the cash infusion coming from Softbank (if approved) and spectrum they would get from Clear, their future is a whole heck of a lot brighter than it was just a few months ago.

Homestead, FL
Bottom line is that people don't like changing carriers. It's a pain when you have a few phones in the plan. I've heard time and time from coworkers saying that they have an old plan and changing to another carrier would pay more, or its a pain to change all phones since most are on different contracts dates.


New York, NY

Re: Sprint

I would change if they were innovative in what they offer us. Unlimited access for one. I think they offer it now. Keep it. I'm no fan of Verizon and I'm grandfathered in for now on unlimited. Make us want to leave them. Actually I hate Verizon. Big red ripoff artists.


People with individual lines are much more willing to change.
Family plan users may be harder to get to switch, but that also makes them more valuable.

Sprint or T-mobile could be very disruptive, and both of them are working hard to resolve issues that keep customers from switching. Iphones for T-mobile and the fact that AT&T customers can leave for T-mobile without buying a new phone once the refarm is complete.

Sprint is deploying LTE and cdma on 800mhz to improve their network.

As strong as Verizon and AT&T are, people are getting tired of the high prices for very little.
Just look at the growth in prepaid smartphone plans.
·Cox HSI
·KCH Cable

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.

West Tenness

Stop asking for unlimited

Ok anyone with actual knowledge knows that unlimited is not sustainable. Yes everyone wants it. I want a Porsche and Mila Kunis. Neither is happening. It's called REALITY. If everyone had unlimited 4G it would be great for about a day then when everyone actually used it the whole friggen network would slow down or just go belly up altogether.

You want to argue the caps are too low that's a legit argument. You want to argue for unlimited well honestly you're not worth having the discussion with because you don't get it and you don't want to.

united state

Re: Stop asking for unlimited

I'm sure there's another hot slut waiting around the corner, who is more real then any of the actors and actresses on tv.

The Porsche is a bit harder to replace..


Albany, NY
It makes no difference if the 4G was unlimited or Capped.
If everyone on 4G logged on at the same time in reality the whole network should come down. It makes no difference if I am on a metered plan or capped or unlimited.

The basic premise is absolute GREED FROM THE CELL CARRIERS they want to have you pay more to use the network, not pay a set price and use it as unlimited when they can wring more money out of a customer by having you think the way you posted.

The cellular companies cannot say "We cannot provide unlimited access to our network at $30 a month, but can give you 2Gb. For the same price "

Bottom line you are accessing the network at a metered price versus an unlimited price, but you are still accessing the network. What is the difference to the cell companies? Just GREED (price)

And lets not forget originally the cell companies wanted customers to go on the unlimited plans, but found a way to offer the teaser when they knew in progression that they had a way to generate more revenue from their customers.

There is plenty of spectrum for data, its cheap to the cellular companies to provide, its just a matter of having folks think its finate when they know its infinite
Knowledge is a terrible thing to waste. That is why I post when I can.

I'll Be Back

Lodi, NJ


First tell me what he is smokin cuz I want some. Please what a bunch of Horse Hockey was that. He finally woke up and realized they were going to be a puny third. What was he looking at all this time?

He did this not to rebrand but just to survive Period.

If they hadn't been so desperate to be like the big 2. They would have had a ton more customers. Between the botched LTE roll outs and the ever increasing bill creep. I said See YA! Went to Tmo and my 30.00 prepaid and I'm golden.

Now If Google would just go and buy Tmo we can have some real fun.

I don't think so.

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.


Oklahoma City, OK

Re: I don't think so.

said by BiggA:

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.

Tri-mode really? I suppose you are also mad they don't have analog\gsm\cdma mode phones too?

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.

Mike E


Re: I don't think so.

Sprint sucks. Just call them the "Nowhere Network" Not to mention the T-Mobile 3g HSPA 7.2 phones run quicker than most of Sprints "WiMax" 4g phones. Sprint: Enjoy putting together a network with all the odd spectrum you own.
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.

Richmond, VA

Dead meat?

Didn't Karl declare Sprint dead meat two years ago? More of that delicious premature speculation.


Re: Dead meat?

To be fair, the only thing saving Sprint right now is SoftBank money.

I don't hold it against anyone if they didn't predict a Japanese firm saving Sprint/Clearwire.

united state

Re: Dead meat?

That's the problem, att will call xenophobia to try and stop the deal from going through. It will be an interesting year.



Hillarious!! :-)

Said the people who have AT&T and Verizon as their carrier.

Sprint has made some huge mistakes. Buying Nextel was a big one, If I could get similar pricing with unlimited data from AT&T and Verizon I would be all over it. But stream Pandora for a few weeks a month and see if you don't hit that 2gb cap quickly. No thanks, I like to budget my money...
And unlimited data isn't sustainable? It gets cheaper all the time to provide bandwidth, funny how that isnt reflected in anyone's bills. Yes they pay billions to upgrade their networks, but last time I checked earning reports, no one was claiming poverty.

New York, NY

Hesse is a fool!

Hesse is an incompetent fool! How is he still the CEO of Sprint? The BOD for Sprint must be worst than the one for HP.

Imperial, MO

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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