Light Reading

Sprint: Heading to California?

Dan Jones
12/2/2013
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Sprint may not have its home in Kansas much longer as the US carrier is preparing to move its nerve center to California, Light Reading understands.

Industry sources say the third-largest mobile operator in the US is getting ready to move its corporate headquarters from Overland Park, Kan., to California. The move would be prompted by SoftBank Mobile Corp. 's acquisition of Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) (See Softbank Closes on Sprint Acquisition.)

SoftBank has been trying to move some Japanese executives to the US to help with the Sprint transition: California is an easier commute for domestic execs than Kansas.

A Sprint employee tells Light Reading that -- although he hadn't specifically heard of a move -- SoftBank is very hands on at the merged company.

There is "a lot of internal [and] operational auditing going on that's making employees nervous," the worker, who preferred to remain anonymous, told us. "Softbank has a lot more involvement than anyone had anticipated."

Responding to questions, Sprint vice president of corporate communications Doug Duvall says the operator "has no plans to move its corporate headquarters from Overland Park."

In July, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said that SoftBank plans $16 billion worth of capital investments in Sprint during the next two years. SoftBank and Sprint are also planning to open an R&D center in Silicon Valley, employing up to 1,000 workers.

Sprint currently has about 40,000 full and part-time employees, 99% of whom are based in the US. It is not clear how an HQ move might affect Sprint employees.

The top spot, however, will be safe for Dan Hesse until 2018. SoftBank put the Sprint CEO's contract renewal on a five-year cycle, rather than reviewing it every year, as was previously done. (See Sprint CEO Hesse to Stay On Through 2018.)

It wouldn't be the first time that Sprint has consolidated its headquarters following a merger. Sprint operated in Reston, Va. and Overland Park following its merger with Nextel in 2005 but consolidated the HQ in Kansas in 2008 after Hesse joined as CEO. (See Sprint Shrinks HQ.)

Sprint and SoftBank already have plenty to do in 2014, with an ambitious plan to juice up the operator's 4G network in the years to come. Sprint is planning a network that runs LTE on 800MHz, 1900MHz and 2.5GHz. The so-called "Spark" update promises downlink peaks of 60 Mbit/s or more from Sprint. (See Sprint Sparks Up Vendors for Faster 4G LTE, Sprint Plans to Add 4G LTE Urban Heft in 2014, and Defining 4G: What the Heck Is LTE TDD?)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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mgmish1
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mgmish1,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2013 | 9:02:55 PM
Re: Westward Ho....
Like everything - consumers dictate price. However you have to feel for any carrier who continually sinks $B's annually to upgrade, update build out new and better networks with ARPU that declines.
Dan@LightReadingMobile
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Dan@LightReadingMobile,
User Rank: Blogger
12/4/2013 | 8:49:17 PM
Re: Westward Ho....
As in price going up or down?
mgmish1
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mgmish1,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2013 | 7:38:54 PM
Re: Westward Ho....
Unlimited data will always be there - but the price will change. Change in Biz model will be more market facing. Bigger emphasis on the pre pay model, and consumer focus. possible reduction in the non phone based offerings on the corp account types. They make money on network time and that is where SB will channel the efforts (IMHO)
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
12/4/2013 | 6:42:43 PM
Re: Westward Ho....
Does a twist in the business model mean the end of unlimited data??
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
12/4/2013 | 6:42:08 PM
re: why move
I wouldn't write KC off. It'is a big, and growing, market for innovation and entreprenuership. It has Google Fiber, the Kauffman Foundation and several startup incubators and labs. 
Dan@LightReadingMobile
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Dan@LightReadingMobile,
User Rank: Blogger
12/4/2013 | 5:34:59 PM
Re: Westward Ho....
Interesting comment, thanks!
mgmish1
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mgmish1,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2013 | 5:03:37 PM
Westward Ho....
Many of the top exec started buying there 3 months ago. SB is the driver now, make no bones about it, and bones will be the operative word. Expect even more changes and perhaps a twist is the Biz model.
Dan@LightReadingMobile
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Dan@LightReadingMobile,
User Rank: Blogger
12/4/2013 | 10:14:53 AM
Pickup
Thanks to Seeking Alpha for picking this up:

http://seekingalpha.com/currents/post/1443121
Dan@LightReadingMobile
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Dan@LightReadingMobile,
User Rank: Blogger
12/4/2013 | 10:05:12 AM
re: why move
I think point is that the SoftBank execs, who want to meet/be in California, are the ones that seem to be most hands on in re-shaping Sprint right now. Should be interesting what happens. I'd be watching very carefully if I was a Sprint employee.
Dan@LightReadingMobile
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Dan@LightReadingMobile,
User Rank: Blogger
12/4/2013 | 10:02:28 AM
Re: Converged platform
Nextel was the one with the HQ in Reston. They operated a joint HQs in Reston and Overland Park from 2005-8. Hesse consolidated the HQ in Kansas in when he joined 2008.
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