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2007 Top Ten: Sprint Shockas

5. Losing 'high-value' customers
Sprint has ben losing "postpaid" subscribers throughout the year. These monthly subscribers are generally the most profitable customer base for wireless operators. In contrast, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless have consistently been adding monthly subscribers throughout the year. (See Sprint: Profits Up, Subs Stall.)

4. Where's push-to-talk?
One reason for the subscriber defections is because Sprint hasn't yet delivered a push-to-talk digital walkie-talkie system that spans its entire CDMA network. Nextel's enterprise-oriented users love the existing PTT system on the iDEN network. Sprint said in August that it will deliver PTT on CDMA in "early 2008." The company has also been introducing dual-mode CDMA and iDEN devices that straddle the networks. (See Sprint Pushes Dualmode Talk Button and Sprint Details PTT.)

3. WiMax deployment spending
A particular thorn for Sprint investors, the WiMax network is one way for the operator to try and get ahead in the race to wireless broadband and 4G, but is unlikely to be anything much more than a money drain until the next decade.

For instance, Sprint spent $51 million on WiMax during the second quarter of this year in preparation for a nationwide launch in April 2008. The firm said earlier this year that it plans to spend $3 billion on WiMax through 2008. (See Sprint's Profit Dive.)

2. Dissolution of the Clearwire WiMax deal
Sprint's WiMax deal with Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) was supposed to lessen some of those WiMax costs by sharing deployment costs and networks in the U.S. It turned out to be a summer fling, however, as the firms dissolved the agreement in November 2007, saying that the deal was too difficult to work out. (See Report: Sprint & Clearwire Split.) 1. Departure of CEO Gary Forsee
Forsee's departure was no surprise by the time it was confirmed in October. Activist shareholders had been clamoring for his ouster for a while and the operator was getting to report downbeat third quarter numbers. Still, the CEO's exit represented the ultimate signal of what a bad year Sprint had in 2007. (See Sprint Nextel CEO Steps Down.) — The Staff, Unstrung

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