From Consumerist –
Sprint lost 148,000 customers after contract-subscriber defections more than offset prepaid gains. Sprint introduced new phones last year, including an exclusive deal to sell the Palm Pre, to keep more customers.
The company said it expects subscriber losses to slow this year. Chief Executive Officer Dan Hesse said he will roll out more fourth-generation devices this year, which give customers high-speed wireless Internet access.
Consumerist is even running a poll to figure out why. I’ll save them some trouble. Its the contract. Sprint’s contract has not kept up with the times. Tho they have MTM plans, their post paid contracts are probably the least consumer friendly of any of the major carriers.
I would also suspect that the network is part of the problem as well. Being in the DFW area, its one of Sprints oldest territories. Yet all these years later they still have dead spots around the DFW airport area as well as other areas of the metroplex.
If you are a Sprint customer, follow the link and take their poll.
As a rule of thumb, if you you say big dumb pipe to a wireless or telco suit, he’ll start acting like Dracula in a garlic field fenced with crosses. One on and off again exception has been Sprint. At one time, the company bet its future on an open 4G WiMAX network only to pull back under pressure from fund managers (many of whom are also major shareholders of AT&T and Verizon). While still a stakeholder in the national WiMAX deployment, Sprint has been quietly working out wholesale 3G data arrangements like the one that enables Amazon’s Kindle. That now appears to be the tip of what could be an iceberg as a not so big, but national dumb wireless pipe:
The Overland Park, Kan., company is now talking with companies such as GPS device maker Garmin Ltd., Eastman Kodak Co. and SanDisk Corp., which makes storage devices, about delivering wireless Internet service for their products, according to a person familiar with the matter.
In these deals, Sprint will rent out its network and generally collect fees from manufacturers based on how much data is transmitted to the devices. Although wholesale subscribers provide less revenue than retail subscribers, Sprint doesn’t have to worry about expenses for billing and customer service.
In the case of the Kindle, Sprint is getting paid by Amazon based on the amount of usage — how many books are downloaded. (Wall Street Journal)
While it’s likely the next wave of connected devices will depend closed loop connectivity that is tied to a specific device. open access for any device can’t be that far off as a natural evolution. Continuing to only enable devices endorsed by and locked to a specific network not only limits a company’s customer base, it’s suicidal as voice only fades.
The peaking in wireless voice services I predicted over a year ago has arrived ahead of schedule. Perhaps a universal or “dumb” wireless pipe will also arrive sooner rather than later. Universal device access to a network we are paying for should be the rule rather than the exception. Lets hope the market gets us there before the “net neutrality” wonks step in and mess it up.
Last year, a new management team took the helm of Sprint’s deteriorating business. Since then, they’ve shed employees, expenses, a 4G net work and quite a few more subscribers. While the size of the company’s losses are narrowing, the hemorrhaging customers continues while the entire mobile voice market goes flat.of
Sprint reported sales of $8.4 billion and ended the quarter with 49.3 million subscribers after losing 1.3 million. Of those lost, 1.1 million were postpaid subscribers who have annual contracts with the carrier. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has been trying to stem the subscriber exodus since his arrival — and had said it should ease at the end of 2008. Instead Sprint saw about 4.6 million subscribers defect in the last year, with 2.6 million leaving in the second half. (Gigaom)
The recession has accelerated the end of the ever growing mobile market. With companies targeting eight year old children as the next untapped demographic for growth, most can only hope the bubble deflates slowly instead of making an abupt pop. If Sprint’s management is serious about keeping their jobs, they need to unleash a bunch of game changers that will upset the wireless cartel. Other than a $50 unlimited prepaid plan that has been relegated to 1990′s technology, they seem to be holding to cartel friendly offerings.
Consumerist, a consumer advocacy blog that has more teeth than the BBB has struck again. This time by fostering the close of a contact center that has been exposed as shall we say less than stellar? –
Sprint is closing a call center we posted ex-employee accounts about that alleged on-the-scene drug use, sex, and theft of customer credit card numbers, among other infractions.
According to an inside source, these posts about the Teleperformance USA call center in Fishers, Indiana got sent up the company ladder. When they hit the Senior VP level, there was much teeth grinding. A Sprint vendor manager was hauled in on his ass to explain himself. Guess it wasn’t very convincing. Then again, it could just be the economy. Whichever the case, no matter, all roads lead to Rome.
The Telecom industry has enough problems with image on its own. It does not have to contract for more. Which of course leads me to my old saw — Anytime you relinquish control of your brand to another without sufficeint control, you lose control of the brand. These days a damaged brand is a very expensive thing to recover from.
Sprint is offering employees an opportunity to RIF (Reduction in Force) themselves! Boy ain’t that a great thing. That is a precursor to action down the line that I will reference after the jump. —
Sprint Nextel is instituting a voluntary separation package for its employees, giving them until Dec. 3 to leave the company voluntarily.
The beleagured carrier, which lost 1.3 million net subscribers in the third quarter, has not announced any layoffs as part of the plan.
“What is happening is Sprint is offering a personal decision for employees to take advantage of a voluntary separation package,” said Lisa Zimmerman-Mott, a Sprint spokeswoman. Zimmerman-Mott said the offer was made to most employees that don’t have direct access to customers.
“No one is being forced to do anything,” she said. “There are no forced reductions. There are no layoffs in store. It’s a matter of employees having the option to exercise discretion. No targets have been announced.”
“…No targets have been announced.” , heh. That does not mean they aren’t in the works. From personal experience I can tell you that if a voluntary plan has been hatched then there is a larger RIF plan coming soon after. The reason companies do this is to blunt any possible legal action when the RIFs come due. That way they can say “Well we asked for volunteers. Doesn’t that show compassion?” in any court of law that they operate under.
Sprint has to have a RIF planned. They lost another 1.3m customer last quarter. They are rapidly reaching the point that they may not have the income base to continue a broad based national network. I hope not I am one of their customers.
Sprint seems to be on a roll these days, at least with WiMax. The consumer friendly business model as a network open to all compatible devices, and a no contract subscription make their Xohm service very consumer friendly. Reports on the initial Baltimore network confirm that the offering is working as advertised with a take rate beyond expectations.
Recent comments for Sprint’s CEO include well placed hints that they would be interested in taking WiMax rural if they could get a little USF help. Since the return on USF investment in braodband has yielded less than pathetic results so far, I encourage any honest member of Congress (please tell me there is one) to explore putting some of the pork into rural WiMax by funding non incumbent(s).
Sprint is forming partnerships with other companies to allow all kinds of devices to be sold without service contracts, Hesse said. The WiMAX network will be open to all consumers using a variety of price models, he said. Hesse criticized LTE as suited to the “traditional” business model of the wireless industry. “WiMAX is different,” he said.
WiMAX will allow true broadband in rural areas where building fiber networks would be cost-prohibitive, Hesse said. But he predicted some kind of subsidy or public-private partnership will be required so all Americans can afford and receive service.
The next President should take WiMAX seriously as an alternative for universal broadband services, Hesse said. Expanding fiber networks to rural areas is unlikely since incumbent networks don’t already have wires in the ground, he said.
Hesse cautioned against a Democratic administration enacting “Orwellian” network neutrality regulations, a possibility he called a “great concern” to the wireless industry. Carriers must sometimes serve the interests of the many at the expense of the few because of limited bandwidth, Hesse said. At its core, the Internet is a collection of private networks that should remain unregulated, he said. “Once it starts, where is it going to end?” (Broadband Census)