SoftBank is bringing in one of its own to help Sprint with its LTE TDD rollout in the newly created position of technical chief operating officer.
SoftBank Corp. board member Junichi Miyakawa will become technical COO of Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) November 1, the company announced Friday. Both Sprint CTO Stephen Bye and Chief Network Officer John Saw will report to Miyakawa, who will oversee Sprint's Spark deployment.
Core to Sprint Spark in particular -- and Network Vision in general -- is the rollout of Long Term Evolution Time Division Duplex (LTE TDD) in the 1900MHz, 800MHz and 2.5GHz spectrum band, something Miyakawa has experience with at SoftBank, where he helped the carrier build out its LTE network on 2.5GHz. He joined the SoftBank BB holding group as a board director in 2003, and is currently the executive vice president, board director and CTO for SoftBank Mobile, SoftBank BB and SoftBank Telecom. (See Sprint's LTE TDD Future to Boost Current Vendors and Defining 4G: What the Heck Is LTE TDD?)
Sprint says Miyakawa will oversee the carrier's network and technology organization, including related strategy, network operations and performance, as well as lead its relationships with key network equipment vendors. Miyakawa will report directly to new CEO Marcelo Claure. (See Sprint's New Boss Plans Cost Cuts.)
Why this matters
Miyakawa will be more than a SoftBank figurehead at Sprint. Deploying 2.5GHz remains one of the carrier's biggest challenges right now as it's crucial to improving its network performance in important urban areas. So far, while Sprint has made progress on Network Vision, it's been painstakingly slow, costing it thousands of customers in the process. (See Sprint Feels the Churn Burn Before Spark.)
This is one of many shake-ups SoftBank and new Sprint CEO Claure have made at the US's third-largest carrier. More than 900 employees at its Overland Park, Kan., headquarters have been laid off so far this year, although the cuts were expected to be largely complete by today. (See Sprint Starts Layoffs, Will Take $160M Charge and Sprint Cuts 452 Jobs at Kansas HQ.)
The company has also lost some high-level executives as part of the SoftBank shakeup, including, of course, former CEO Dan Hesse, as well as Iyad Tarazi, vice president of network development and engineering; Steve Elfman, president of network operations; and Bob Azzi, senior vice president of networks. Light Reading has heard rumblings that CTO Bye is taking on a new role within the company, but it appears -- at least for the time being -- he will continue to lead his division alongside Saw, both reporting to Miyakawa. (See Hesse Out, Claure In: Sprint Is Son's House Now! and Sprint Loses Its Small Cell Guru.)
- Sprint Seeds Market with LTE-A Handsets
- Sprint's Saw: '5G' Opp Is Moving Signal Closer to Customers
- Sprint's Spark: It's Fast but No Multi-Tasker
- Sprint: LTE TDD Speed Boost Coming Soon
- Sprint's Dual-LTE Future Looms: Help Wanted!
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading