Marcelo Claure (pictured), Sprint’s new chief executive, is “wide open” to consolidation talks with either cable operators, so-called ‘OTT’ players or other wireless companies. “It’s a scale game,” he said. “We’re believers in consolidation.”
His comments, made at a conference sponsored by Goldman Sachs, come only weeks after merger talks broke down with rival T-Mobile.
Not surprisingly, given that the third-largest mobile operator in the US had been bleeding customers under Dan Hesse, Claure’s predecessor, the new man at the Sprint helm admitted the operator had been guilty of not offering customers a compelling value proposition.
“We were more expensive than the others, the network was a work in progress, and deals such as Framily were difficult to understand and sell,” he said.
Claure revamped Sprint’s data plans within the first week of his new role and introduced shared plans similarly priced to those of AT&T and Verizon – but with double the data allowance. Unlimited data plans for individuals have also been introduced.
“We have no choice but to be the value player,” said Claure, acknowledging that Sprint’s network still needs improvement.
Claure is optimistic, however, that targeted rollout of LTE at 2.5GHz in congested areas (and in selected cities) will enable Sprint to combine value and network quality by easing capacity strains in other frequency bands.
“What makes us different is the huge amount of spectrum we have,” argued Claure, pointing out that Sprint has more than 160MHz in the 2.5GHz frequency band.
“The basics of the network are done,” he added. “3G is complete, we’ve finished 4G rollout at 1.9GHz, and now we’re accelerating 800MHz [LTE] and pushing hard on 2.5GHz deployment. We’re not there yet, though, which is why we have to focus on value.”
Sprint has the lowest EBITDA margin of all the major US mobile operators. Claure said costs needed to be lowered and every dollar spent monitored. He would not reveal, however, which areas he has identified for cost cutting.
In a separate announcement, Sprint said it wouldn’t participate in an auction of AWS-3 spectrum slated for later this year, preferring to bide its time until the auction of 600MHz spectrum in 2015.