Verizon Says No to Managed Services

At least one of Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s major cellular rivals, Verizon Wireless , says it won't follow its smaller competitor down the managed-services route.

Sprint inked a $5 billion deal today with Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), whereby the Swedish vendor's services arm take over the day-to-day running of Sprint's wired and wireless network operations. (See Ericsson, Sprint in $5B Managed Services Deal.)

Verizon, which has based its highly successful advertising around the concept that it is highly active and visible in ensuring network performance (you know, the "Can you hear me now?" guy), won't be following suit.

"We have decided to run and operate our own networks and be directly responsible to our end customers,” said Jeff Nelson, a Verizon Wireless spokesman.

In fact, as analysts on the Sprint/Ericsson conference call expected, the fact that Sprint no longer operates its own networks could be used as a way for competitors to try and talk down about Sprint. "That particular competitor is just a brand," Nelson said in regard to Sprint.

The Sprint deal is the first managed-services deal that a major wireless operator in the U.S. has inked. The approach is much more common in Europe, where, for instance, Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) recently signed a similar deal with Ericsson. (See Vendors Scrap Over Managed Services Deals.)

Sprint's other major rival, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), hasn't yet responded to an Unstrung inquiry about its attitude toward such managed-service deals. — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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