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Sprint CFO: “Unlimited has Longevity”

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 10:23am
Ben Munson

Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer said “unlimited has longevity” and pointed to offering unlimited data as a big differentiator in the market for Sprint.

Euteneuer, speaking Monday at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference, said Sprint sees a bright future for its unlimited data offering and owed much of that to the runway room gained through acquiring Clearwire.

“For as much as we had all the drama up to the close, post close it’s just gone fantastic,” Euteneuer said, speaking about the carrier’s progress deploying on the 2.5 GHz spectrum acquired through the Clearwire deal.

After talking about integrating Clearwire into Sprint, the conversation shifted toward integrating Sprint into SoftBank. Despite reports suggesting a culture clash rising from SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son pushing Sprint in new directions, Euteneuer welcomed having Son on Sprint’s team.

“[Son] is one of those guys who wants to get it done and we’re all behind him,” Euteneuer said. He added that Sprint did better than it could have as a standalone company in securing new 2.5 GHz network deployment contracts with Nokia Solutions and Networks and Alcatel-Lucent.

He reiterated Sprint’s plans to cover 250 million POPs of 1.9 MHz LTE and finish refarming for LTE its 800 MHz by mid-year. He seemed confident that Sprint Spark, the carrier’s high-speed offering on 2.5 GHz spectrum, is still on track to touch 100 U.S. markets over the next three years.

“We don’t know what to tell you about Apple,” Euteneuer said, in reference to Apple not building its newest iPhone to work on all three of Sprint’s LTE bands. But he was confident about the uptake Sprint has been seeing with its current slate of tri-band LTE devices.

When prodded about the quick demise of Sprint’s One Up early upgrade program and the less aggressive marketing around Easy Pay, Euteneuer said yearly upgrades should be a premium option. But he sounded optimistic about the impact that doing away with device subsidies could have on the industry as a whole. 

Euteneuer said that if Sprint or any other carrier can move completely away from subsidies on phones, it will overall increase profitability and lessen the impact to cash.

“Overall, the economic model could work out very, very well,” Euteneuer said. 

“Most importantly, you become a little bit agnostic about the handset and that puts a little more pressure on the manufacturer,” Euteneuer said, adding that OEMs will have to rethink how to support themselves in the marketplace.

That could lead to OEMs becoming more willing to chip in on the cost of marketing devices, Euteneuer said.

But marketing costs could be alleviating some by Sprint’s recent pricing moves. Since Framily Plans’ rates reduce as customers recruit more people onto their shared account, Euteneuer said it effectively turns the consumer into a marketer for Sprint.

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