Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sprint CEO Nervous About the Wireless Industry's Future

It seems as though the CEO of Sprint, Dan Hesse, is worried about the future of the mobile phone industry. At a reporter’s roundtable discussion at the Sprint headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas, Hesse revealed his worries and concerns about many things surrounding the U.S. wireless industry. He also expressed his extreme opposition to the proposal of merging AT&T and T-Mobile.

Hesse and Farid Adib, the product development chief at Sprint, claim that Sprint has been the carrier to drive innovation among the mobile phone companies. Hesse went on to say that if Sprint had not introduced 4G WiMAX back in 2008, Verizon would have not been as quick to turn on LTE and AT&T would "just have called its 3G network 4G."

Hesse and Adib went on to discuss possible phones for the future and service plans. A reporter questioned the two about why Sprint is not carrying the Palm Pre 3, and Adib responded, "HP ... has been a lifelong partner of Sprint" and that "we still have open dialogues, and work together ... a lot of our OEMS have had ups and downs, but we never count any of them out."

Hesse added that Sprint's strength as the "only unlimited carrier" is not necessarily going to continue or be dismissed by the company. It all depends on "how much capacity do we have," Hesse said. "Every few months we take a look, we take a look at tonnage, and we take a look at all the things we're doing to offload tonnage ... we'll just continue to monitor it. Nothing is forever ... [but] we think it's a terrific opportunity to differentiate ourselves in the market."

Hesse continued discussing concerns about all the patent lawsuits that have been going on between Microsoft, Apple and various different Android phone manufacturers. He said that all of these issues could result in more expensive phones. The rise in costs would then be borne by carriers and customers. "I wouldn't say don't worry about it," Hesse said. "We collectively, the industry, are the customers and potential victims in this. There's no upside to us and I hope it gets sorted out."

Hesse said that by far his biggest fear is the AT&T and T-Mobile merger. He claims that it could be "the end of the U.S. wireless industry." He believes that although Sprint has been the company to push the industry forward in the past, he feels that innovation would be dramatically slowed with AT&T and Verizon dominating the market. Hesse explains that Sprint has a contingency if it looks like the merger is going to happen. "I don't spend any time on it," Hesse said, instead spending "all my time on making sure the decision is the right one."

"If this thing goes through, I hope you like 4G, because it's going to be the last generation America ever gets," Hesse said.

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