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Stress is building on the Sprint-cable Pivot joint venture

Sprint CEO Calls Pivot Progress Disappointing

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
8/9/2007
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Although execs are trying to say all the right things, it's impossible not see that tension is building on the girders holding up the Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) "Pivot" mobile phone partnership with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cox Communications Inc. , and Bright House Networks .

More stress was applied Wednesday when Sprint chairman and CEO Gary Forsee addressed the status of the JV during the company's second-quarter earning's call. (See Sprint's Profit Dive.)

He called the pace of Pivot rollouts a "disappointment," citing the time required to weave the service into the cable fabric, including the call centers and the points of sale. He lamented there is no "one-size-fits all approach" to deploying the service, noting the needs in Comcast's Boston market may be different than those of Time Warner systems.

"It took us longer… because we spent time on the back office, to get that right, before we took it into the marketplace. At this stage, there's still some system work to be done to speed up that activation." he said, responding to an analyst's question.

Forsee said the Pivot partners have introduced the service in 20 markets, and he expects to at least double that number by year's end. Sprint and its cable partners have yet to disclose Pivot subscriber figures. However, Sprint did note that its cable VOIP interconnection service served about 2 million customers at quarter's end, up 75 percent year-over-year.

Despite any disappointment in terms of deployment pace, "I think Sprint and the four cable companies… are committed to make [Pivot] work, obviously to see the customer receptivity to having a converged device as part of the bundle," he said.

Although Forsee is painting a picture that all remains well with the JV, any public frustration appears significant after Sprint decided to pull the plug on its participation in the SpectrumCo bidding consortium with cable. (See Sprint to Exit SpectrumCo Venture .)

Forsee reiterated that Sprint's decision to exit that advanced wireless spectrum (AWS) venture, where it held only a 5 percent, non-voting stake, had no bearing on the Pivot effort.

"This event has no impact on our JV and was fully anticipated by our partners," he insisted.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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