Ten Reasons to Love Sprint
1. Clearwire and 4G Yeah, we went for the obvious one first, but hey, barring any major screw-ups, the Sprint-backed Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) venture will be the first to offer 4G-like services in the U.S. Both companies have said they'll have initial markets up and running in late 2008, beating a planned Verizon Wireless long-term evolution (LTE) rollout by a year. (See Clearwire: We'll Kick LTE's Butt.)
So, what will 4G mean in the U.S.? For users, it probably just means faster wireless data connections on their notebook computers in 2009. For Sprint, however, it might help boost data revenue even further.
2. Higher data revenues Speaking of which -- data is one element of Sprint's balance sheet that is not only surviving but thriving. According to a research note from Lehman Brothers analyst Inder Singh, Sprint's data revenues grew 19 percent in the first quarter of 2008 compared with a year ago, despite the declining subscriber base. Data services from monthly contracts contributed about $11.50 to average revenue per user (ARPU). On a per-user basis, data ARPU grew 60 percent from the same period last year.
Sprint needs this trend to continue, since the smart money suggests that data -- not voice -- will increasingly boost an operator's bottom line.
3. Not all customers are jumping ship Check the numbers, Jack. Sprint added 343,000 Boost Unlimited and 183,000 wholesale and affiliate subscribers in the first quarter, even as it lost more than 1 million monthly subscribers. Yeah, Wall Street doesn't see the Boost crowd as high-value customers, but hey, a dollar is a dollar right? (See Sprint Bleeds Cellular Customers.)
4. A spiffed-up device portfolio Sprint is readying the Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) Instinct for launch, a touch-screen phone that the operator is making no bones about marketing as an iPhone rival.
5. A vast, untapped resource Sprint CTO Barry West always talked about how Sprint's near-nationwide 2.5 GHz spectrum footprint was undervalued, and he had a point. That resource is now valued at something in the region of $7 billion and will be part of the new Clearwire, which Sprint has a 51 percent stake in. Still, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon paid more for less spectrum and they didn't get spanked by the stock markets. (See AT&T & Verizon to Use 700 MHz for 4G .) 6. Hands-on Hesse Maybe it's just us, but doesn't new CEO Dan Hesse seem to be a little bit more involved in Sprint than some of his predecessors? (See Embarq CEO Resigns to Run Sprint.) 7. Less annoying advertising Case in point, Hesse talking about Sprint is far less aggravating than yet another round of "Can you hear me now?" spots from Verizon, or that commercial where "Chad" from Alltel Corp. (NYSE: AT) is hanging out with the wizard and his family. Is Alltel trying to target the D&D demographic with that one?
8. Everybody roots for the underdog Think of Sprint as the Jamiacan bobsled team of the U.S. cellular market. See? You like them better already...
9. Sponsors NASCAR That's cool, right?
10. In the air tonight Sprint's employees are carbon-based life forms that breathe oxygen, thus helping to maintain the flora and fauna of Overland Park, Kan., and other parts of the U.S.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung