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Sprint Cuts COO

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) said yesterday that its chief operating officer Len Lauer is leaving the company in a move that follows its poor second quarter performance in the wireless market.

The third largest wireless operator issued a terse statement saying that Sprint Nextel's CEO Gary Forsee will take on Lauer's responsibilities and that the chief operating officer position will not be filled.

Earlier this month, the operator reported a 38 percent drop in quarterly earnings for the second quarter and said that it had added fewer wireless subscribers in that time than its two larger rivals -- Cingular Wireless and Verizon Wireless . (See Sprint Nextel Reports Q2 and Sprint & Verizon Push 3G.)

Sprint Nextel's stock has declined more than 20 percent so far this year. The firm has had financial issues ever since it closed the $35 billion acquisition of Nextel in August 2005 (See Sprint's Mixed Quarter and Sprint/Nextel Merger to Close). The company is already making moves to try and get a technology edge on its rivals. Sprint recently announced that it will roll out a mobile WiMax "4G" network in 2008 that will offer far higher data transfer speeds than existing 3G networks (See Sprint Goes WiMax.)

Analysts doubt that Lauer's departure will have a dramatic effect on the company. "Not much will change that wouldn't have changed with Len at the company," says Roger Entner, VP of Wireless at Ovum Ltd. "They have recognized the problems and put the plan in motion before Lauer's departure."

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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