Last updated: December 22, 2011 - 10:40pm
Sprint no longer has to deal with the threat of a merged AT&T-T-Mobile. But it still has to cope with the fact that it is a distant No. 3 to AT&T and Verizon Wireless. And, after betting on a different 4G technology, the company also has to bring up an entirely new network, all while trying to turn off its older Nextel network.
Sprint is still losing money. In its most recent quarter, it booked a $301 million loss on revenue of $8.3 billion, which was an improvement over the prior year’s period. On the bright side, it added 1.3 million customers — and that was before it had Apple’s iPhone in its stores to help entice new customers. But while having the iPhone is nice, it’s not helping the bottom line. As The Wall Street Journal reported in October, Sprint has committed to buy more than 30 million iPhones, which will cost it as much as $20 billion over time, and on which it expects to lose money through at least 2014. And that’s not even the half of it. Sprint also plans to spend big to build a new LTE network in 2012, and currently relies on WiMax as its 4G technology. With $5 billion in cash and short-term investments on its balance sheet as of the end of December, Hesse said, the company will have to go to the credit markets and borrow to get the build-out done. Meanwhile, its relationship with the wireless broadband concern Clearwire isn’t exactly helping.
So for Sprint, while one important battle is won, the war to turn the company around — and it will be a tough one — is far from over, and far from victory.
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