Could Sprint Be The Comeback Kid?

By Will Townsend - June 8, 2017
I have to admit, Paul the bespeckled “can you hear me now” guy always annoyed me when he hawked the Verizon service years ago on television. Now as the world all knows he’s moved to Sprint, as well as the actual actor I recently learned. I had the opportunity to learn more about Paul and Sprint as I attended the first Sprint analyst conference in three years this week. Suffice it to say, a lot has transpired since CEO Marcelo Claure joined in late 2014 to lead the company’s convergence of wireline and wireless services.   Sprint Logo (Source: Sprint) Hire no longer fire Sprint is investing heavily in all aspects of its commercial business. The firing of the past has now been replaced with hiring, creating a nearly 2x team member expansion. One of the strategic objectives is to grow its wireless market share in SMB, mid-market and enterprise by focusing on mobile-centric productivity, “as a service” delivery, support for bringing your own device (BYOD) / hybrid environments and “bend over backward” support. Strength in parents and sisters A strength that Sprint can draw upon is through its parent SoftBank  Group Corp. SoftBank is not only a wireless carrier in the Japanese market but also invests and owns a multitude of technology related companies. As one of the 60 largest public companies on the planet, its portfolio is extensive. One holding of interest is OneWeb, a company that is focused on launching a network of low orbit satellites. Combining OneWeb’s future capability with Sprint’s terrestrial coverage could create an interesting capability to support future 5G networks and applications such as autonomous driving that will require ubiquitous, seamless coverage. A magical box and improving network service Sprint is also innovating with products such as its Magicbox. Touted as the world’s first all wireless small cell, the product amplifies data signals and LTE data speeds. What’s compelling is that the product can not only improve signals indoors, but it can also “light up” areas outside of a building when placed in a window. Sprint’s CTO John Saw referenced a recent trial in downtown Chicago in a hotel that took prior 3G average levels of service up to 4G on every floor of an adjacent shopping mall. Sprint also shared its leadership position in “deployable” spectrum with an emphasis on its 2.5GHz holdings and improved network performance as evidenced by its 2016 #2 ranking by JD Power for US Wireless Network Quality Performance. In 2014, the company was dead last. Sprint is also laying the foundation for 5G rollouts in 2019 with a recent Gigabit LTE trial in New Orleans and a planned massive MIMO trial scheduled for later this year based on the LTE Advanced Pro standard. “Calling” it what it is I applaud Sprint’s conservative approach in not over-hyping the above mentioned pre-5G trails. It also appears that the company may be more behind on the marketing side vs actual capability as it continues to turn its commercial business around. Is Sprint the comeback kid in the US carrier market? It certainly appears that its house is in order and it is moving in the right direction.
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Will Townsend manages the networking and security practices for Moor Insights & Strategy focused on carrier infrastructure providers, carrier services, enterprise networking and security. He brings over 30 years of technology industry experience in a variety of product, marketing, channel, business development and sales roles to his advisory position.