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sarahthomas1011
sarahthomas1011
8/14/2014 | 2:59:23 PM
time for pricing AND network improvements
It's good to see Claure acknowledging the need for price drops right away. Hesse always said they couldn't do much with pricing and promotions until they fixed the network, which is true in part, but it really can't afford to wait to change up its pricing. It's a vicious cyle.  
jabailo
jabailo
8/14/2014 | 3:18:11 PM
Re: time for pricing AND network improvements
It's hard to know what a good/bad network is defined as today.

Do customers only want 1Gbps speeds?   You might ask...why, since an HD video stream, the highest use, only needs 2Mbps.

Is it reliability.  Wow...maybe two decades ago that was an issue, but I think the total number of minutes my Internet (Clear) or phone (Virgin/Sprint) were offline during the last ten years of use would be miniscule.

So, in a way, I agree with him!  I've made the same argument for devices.  People don't want pricey hierloom tablets...they want cheap, workable, but nearly disposable ones.

For my network, I think that if I can get 10 or 20Mbps reliably, most of the time, with no bandwidth throttling (EVER!) and pay a fraction of the 1Gbps, then I'm going with a Sprint-style plan.

 
sarahthomas1011
sarahthomas1011
8/14/2014 | 3:21:01 PM
Re: time for pricing AND network improvements
I think it's more about speed and reliability for Sprint. Drops and blocks on its network are still a big deal. Sprint's network is awesome in some pockets, but that's still the exception, not the rule.

Claure also said Sprint would work on in-venue coverage as one Sprint employee pointed out he can't get any service at Sporting KC, Sprint's hometown soccer stadium, while all the other operators work well. 
lanbrown
lanbrown
8/19/2014 | 11:29:38 AM
Re: time for pricing AND network improvements
HD can be far more than 2Mbps.  It all depends on the quality you want and the CODEC used.  Using a blanket statement of 2Mbps is just plain wrong.  To be honest, you have never seen HD video.  To the home HD is between 5 and 10Mbps from the providers; a Blu-Ray offers at most 40Mbps.  Guess what, neither of those are true HD as well.  What is HD; people go by the number of pixels and not what is actually driving those pixels.  You can get an HD stream under .5Mbps but the quality is terrible for anything with movement in it.  Slightly "compressed" HD stream from providers is 100Mbps.  Uncompressed is around 3Gbps.  It is a night a day difference from what you see on TV and the slightly compressed streams.

 

The real issue that Sprint has; perception and the many people that they have driven away.  10 or 15 years ago; what did Sprint do to the people complaining about the service?  Sprint told the top 10% to go get service elsewhere.  Their Framily commercials are stupid as well.  So, a ditzy mother, a father that is a hamster, a son and his friend named Gor-Don.

 

Maybe Sprint should cut costs by dropping the stupid ads and getting out of their NASCAR sponsorship; neither of which are actually helping.
DanJones
DanJones
8/19/2014 | 11:56:53 AM
Re: time for pricing AND network improvements
I just don't understand why the hamster ever seemed like a good idea.
mendyk
mendyk
8/19/2014 | 12:19:46 PM
Re: time for pricing AND network improvements
Talking animals have been a crowd favorite for millennia.
lanbrown
lanbrown
8/19/2014 | 12:24:00 PM
Re: time for pricing AND network improvements
If you search on those ads, some people love them but hate them.  The adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity just doesn't hold true all of the time.  An advertiser would say if people remember the ad, it worked.  I would argue that point; just because it was remembered does not actually mean it worked.  The goal is to get people to buy your product; if everyone remembered the ad but no one bought the product, was the ad a success?  One camp would say yes, the other would say no.  I view the Framily commercials as beastiality.  Probably not the mark that the ad company had in mind.

 

NASCAR sponsorship and the Frobinson's ads need to go.  The NASCAR deal goes through 2016; Sprint should not continue it.  If it was working, they wouldn't have the customer add issue that they do.

 

Back in 2011 Sprint said this:

"Sprint officials would not discuss financial terms of the agreement, but praised what it does for their business. Steve Gaffney, the company's vice president for corporate marketing, said after Friday's ceremony that not renewing was never really an option."

 

I really want to know what it does for their business.  Q1 and Q2 of 2014 Sprint saw a net loss of subscribers.  The wholesale is the only place where they saw net adds but it wasn't enough to overcome the net loss seen on the post and prepaid side.

 

Sprint may not renew though given that the discussions were pushed out a year:

"Though the partners were slated to open negotiations this year around title rights to the Sprint Cup Series, sources said that Sprint and NASCAR officials have agreed to push back the exclusive negotiating window in their current three-year agreement until 2015."

 

I bet Sprint wants to see how their financial situation is in a year and if they had to make a decision today, it would be not to renew.  Why would NASCAR want to push it back a year, the quicker a deal is sign means the they are goo through the end of 2019.  Pushing it back only helps Sprint.

 

I wonder how much the current deal is costing Sprint.
jabailo
jabailo
8/19/2014 | 12:42:02 PM
Re: time for pricing AND network improvements
On the other hand, Sprint has been on the forefront of the services that people needed, especially in growing suburbs.  Like PCS back in the early 00s which took basic cell phone prices down to consumer levels.  And Clear(wire) in the late 00s which provided the first high speed wireless broadband service.

Sprint is about bringing innovative services to many people at the lowest cost and as such are a threat to more gold plated services.  If that drives the 10% top end "Demanding User" away to somewhere that he can download Blu-Ray movies non-stop for himself and his five other cinemaste family members, then so be it. 

Most of us feel that broadband connectivity -- per se -- is more and more a commodity.   And synchronous two way voice, what we used to call a "phone", is running on these networks anyway.   At some point there is too much capital flowing into these infrastructures without them delivering the real value.  If Sprint can kick out the jams, then so be it.

 
lanbrown
lanbrown
8/19/2014 | 2:19:34 PM
Re: time for pricing AND network improvements
What does Sprint dropping customers have to do with downloading a Blu-Ray?

 

""While we have worked to resolve your issues and questions to the best of our ability, the number of inquiries you have made to us during this time had led us to determine that we are unable to meet your current wireless needs," the letters said."

So, a customer has issues with their bill, the shoddy coverage or any other number of issues and Sprint just decided to drop them because they called Sprint too much to get it resolved?  Yeah, a great way to run a business.  I wonder why customers are leaving and not coming back.  That's right, rather than actually fix the problem, Sprint decided to get rid of group that complained about it.

 

What "innovative" service has Sprint themselves actually brought out?  By Sprint I mean Sprint, not a company they bought.  Being innovative is not buying a company that innovated something.
nasimson
nasimson
5/30/2015 | 10:12:57 PM
Re: time for pricing AND network improvements
@Ianbrown:

Not defending Sprint. But any company would prioritize solving problems. Customers with those problems that you have de-priortized would somehow mean that these customers have higher-cost-to-serve. If their revenues vs costs dont make sense, then not keeping these customers is not an un-wise decision.

This is just a directional abstract-level point. To what extent does it apply to Sprint and the situation at hand is a whole different question.
KBode
KBode
8/14/2014 | 3:23:40 PM
Re: time for pricing AND network improvements
"Hesse always said they couldn't do much with pricing and promotions until they fixed the network, which is true in part, but it really can't afford to wait to change up its pricing. It's a vicious cyle."

Seems to be working for T-Mobile to approach the battle from the price disruption perspective first, yes? Some blunt and promising talk from the new Sprint CEO. That's refreshing to see.
sarahthomas1011
sarahthomas1011
8/14/2014 | 3:30:18 PM
Re: time for pricing AND network improvements
Yeah, very good point. I've heard a lot of people say they'd love to switch to T-Mobile because of the pricing, but the network is crap in their area. For a lot of people though, pricing was compelling enough to switch.

It was interesting, too, that Claure acted like he couldn't care less about T-Mobile. Sprint's threat is entirely AT&T and Verizon. He commended their uncarrier moves, but isn't too worried about it overtaking Sprint's #3 slot.
KBode
KBode
8/15/2014 | 7:46:15 AM
Re: time for pricing AND network improvements
T-Mobile has lead the industry in adds the last few quarters, yes? People respond to pricing. I've yet to switch personally because I travel so much and yeah -- I've found T-Mobile and Sprint both very quickly get flaky on coverage when you're out and about in the American wilds.

Also, and I'm not sure because I don't remember the stats, but didn't T-Mobile overtake Sprint as the #3 recently (I suppose I should go Google the numbers)...

Anyway, I'm all for more competition. Think it's great we'll continue to see four distinct carriers.
smkinoshita
smkinoshita
8/15/2014 | 11:13:40 AM
Re: time for pricing AND network improvements
I'm all for more competition too.  Sprint Canada was eaten up by Rogers I believe. Besides the big two, I think Canadians maybe have...  2-3 other possible carriers.  Canadians know the 'less competition blues'.  I wish Sprint good luck.

I will say that I wish their plan was a whole lot less generic.  "Reduce price, improve service, reduce costs" are the kind of basics  from the classroom, aren't they?
mendyk
mendyk
8/15/2014 | 11:24:36 AM
Re: time for pricing AND network improvements
The big problem is that as far as mobile services are concerned, the Rule of Three has been firmly established in markets around the world -- meaning there's enough business to go around for three principal competitors, but not four. That's why regulators got it wrong in hinting the Sprint/T-Mobile deal would not get approved. User interests would be much better served with three really strong options.
PRB25
PRB25
8/14/2014 | 7:40:40 PM
Competitive advantage - Low price for Service
Claure and Son are finally moving Sprint in the right direction. Sprint has been horribly behind with adding customers. Lowering prices is the only thing left to do right now to compete. Sprint doesn't have the greatest network around, but it works. Now with Softbank and Claure driving Sprint, I really hope they can finally bring a faster and larger network. A network that can compete with Verizon and ATT. I agree with Sprint's confusing pricing plans should be the first to correct. Shaking my head since day one when they started the "framily" plan. Another one of Hesse's old marketing gimmicks. Hopefully now that Hesse is out, Claure can start to clean house, lower costs, build a better network and follow through on his steps to get Sprint in the right direction. Long run, I am optimistic for Sprint and the entire wireless industry.
mendyk
mendyk
8/15/2014 | 9:36:21 AM
Easy as 1-2-whatever
Cutting prices is the quickest and easiest thing any company can do, which puts it at the top of the to-do list. How you get to network improvements on lower margins while keeping chronically dyspeptic shareholders happy is not so easy. And doing that while lowering opex is taking things up a few notches. So all this sounds appropriately inspirational (although I don't get the David Beckham as your reward thing at all), and a lot harder once Task 1 is accomplished.
DOShea
DOShea
8/15/2014 | 10:21:34 AM
Re: Easy as 1-2-whatever
Maybe Claure doesn't want to talk too much about T-Mobile because he's so obviously copying the T-Mobile blueprint.
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
8/15/2014 | 1:48:47 PM
Re: Easy as 1-2-whatever
mendyk - "Cutting prices is the quickest and easiest thing any company can do, which puts it at the top of the to-do list."

Price cuts and layoffs. Although layoffs are a little harder because you actually have to figure out who to lay off. Still, layoffs are a very popular gesture to show that management is Very Very Serious about improving the bottom line. 
Dogood
Dogood
8/15/2014 | 6:23:50 PM
Re: Easy as 1-2-whatever
Cutting prices is nice, layoffs do not work unless you get the right people or job function. Sprint has led the league in layoffs, since 2007 they have probably laid off more people the the other carriers combined. I have read where Sprint has 35K employees, well i can say that the company needs to change this structure. As it sits today, Sprint has less then 500 Site Development employees, more like 400 if you dont count VP, Directors, PM staff which are completely useless. RF Engineering has at most 1500 engineers, these two groups engineer build, modify, relocate all the cell sites. That adds up to about 2000 employees who actually build and engineer these sites, my question is what to the other 33,000 employess do. The last Sprint management always cut the local markets to bare bones, and I mean bare bones and kept their friends, neighbors, buddys who all lived in Overland Park. For Sprint to get back on its feet it needs to add people to the SD and RFE staffs and focus on local market builds. With that they need to gut the corporate HQ, lets see if the new COE has the guts.
nasimson
nasimson
8/17/2014 | 4:11:03 AM
Re: Easy as 1-2-whatever
@DoGood: You have surprised me. I didn't know that the numbers were this disproportionate. Are there any numbers on industry's customer to employee ratio? I expect Sprint to be low if not the lowest.
briandnewby
briandnewby
8/17/2014 | 11:00:19 AM
Re: Easy as 1-2-whatever
I think there is a major culture hurdle for Claure and I assert that he's not hitting it directly and, thus, he won't be successful.  I didn't think Dan Hesse would be successful, either, and I'd argue that he wasn't.

Claure built a business--a huge business, and that's impressive.  And, it's so huge, of course, that he has experience running a $10 billion business.  So, to say he's not an operations guy is off the mark a bit, but his experience is running sometlhing he built. 

I worked there a long time, pre-Hesse, but the culture is a "determined to be number three," mindset.  Layoffs won't help with that.  You can't make non-entreprenuers entreprenuers.  If employee engagement is an issue, sometimes you just need new employees, and Son clearly thinks that engagement could be better.  Already, the first moves are throwbacks to 1990s ("Sprint Business").

I think Claure should build a new Sprint, in California as rumored or somewhere else, handpick organizations and key executives to make that move, and shudder the rest.  That's different than layoffs.  And, he has to do it fast, decisively.

He's proven he can build a business, and I think he should build this one, using assets that exist.  Trying to simply transform Sprint, politely taking the baton from Hesse and promising a new Sprint, which is where this feels like it's headed, is not the answer.
kq4ym
kq4ym
8/18/2014 | 8:34:04 AM
Re: Easy as 1-2-whatever
Cutting prices seems to be a real risky maneuver, unless they can get massive advertising and media hype, it may just be a real money  loser if it fails. There's still lots of price competition out there, they need some really cool publicity to get everyone hyped up about prices to get folks to switch over to Sprint.
danielcawrey
danielcawrey
8/18/2014 | 12:38:06 PM
Re: Easy as 1-2-whatever
I think that price cuts are necessary, because Sprint doesn't have the reputation of Verizon in terms of coverage. For many people, that might not matter.

But if you travel a lot or have a mobile workforce, connectivity via wireless networks can often be critical to business. Sprint can alleviate some of the concerns people have with coverage by offering a incentive via pricing. 
CPITODAY
CPITODAY
8/15/2014 | 1:01:56 PM
New Network...
We work with businesses everyday and ultimately without a competitive network to Verizon (rural coverage) - it doesn't matter what the cost is - people don't want something that doesn't work. The new leadership must make building out the network in the Midwest to compete with the same footprint of Verizon, ATT, and US Cellular - or they will continue to suffer. Another idea would be branding...many people hear "Sprint" and reply with "I don't care what they do, they have burned too many bridges with false promises"


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