Sprint Goes iPhone: 3G Goes Nowhere
On October 14th, 2011, primetime wireless carrier Sprint released the news that they will now carry the iPhone 4 and 4S on their platter. Although Sprint has been able to up their new signees, including myself, they may alter several factors that make them competitive in todays fierce wireless market.
Some good questions regarding this bold move have been asked, some have gone completely overlooked. First, Sprint expects to see a large increase in customer growth. With their $79.99 truly unlimited plan that includes mobile talk, text, and web; Sprint has been able to woo customers away from larger firms AT&T and Verizon. They have also seen a customer upswing at the expense of the more affordable and still competitive MetroPCS.
By implementing both versions of Apple’s iPhone 4, Spring has announced a 4 year plan that forecasts significant loss for the fourth quarter and the following 2 years. The loss is expected to be between $2.6 and $2.8 billion, according to Sprint.
In the long haul, Sprint expects to generate $7 to $8 billion dollars through channels like customer growth and lower turnover and support costs. Sprint customers are now more profitable and less likely to leave the company.
Great, open world financials are out of the way. Projections are only half the battle. What about real world results? What about Sprint’s potentially overloaded 3G network and now dogging internet speeds? What about Sprint 4G and it’s existing relationship with 4G wholesaler Clearwire? These questions may go over looked, but this is the underlying end user impact that will make this move boom or bust.
It is important to remember that cell phones are no longer just voice devices, they are the centerpiece of information. Smartphones work as a resource guide on the fly, even for college students during exam time. Today’s technology dependent world does not run without a data network. Sprint 3G is current full of complaints, but why?
One thing consumers get confused if the correlation, or lack or correlation, between the iPhone 4 and the wireless world’s shady 4G market. Just because it is called the iPhone 4 does not mean it runs on a 4G network. Apple is yet, although in talks, of releasing a 4G iPhone.
With the implementation of iPhone into Sprints data plan, the Sprint 3G network is now FLOODED with usage. The biggest reason for return to Sprint has been the lack of capability a user has when trying to access the web.
The Solution: Resurgence of Clearwire 4G
Sprint needs to get back to their sole bread and butter. Sprint’s sole bread and butter runs hand in hand with their direct partner of which they own 54%, Clearwire.
Yes, Sprint and Clearwire need to make amends. Consumers are not aware of the fact that the Sprint 4G network is not Sprint at all, it is solely the nation’s first 4G wireless pioneer, Clearwire. Not LTE, but WiMax, CLEAR powers a 4G network in over 80 major cities, compared to the 5 offered current by AT&T.
What does this all mean? Well, the answer is simple. Sprint offers unlimited 4G!!! Sprint offers a wide array of 4G enabled phones!!! A new 3 to 5 year network agreement is nearly done between the two partners, news that has contributed to a 20% increase in Clearwire stocks.
As a company man with Clearwire, of course I am going to promote the use of 4G WiMax, but now it just makes too much sense. As a piece of advice for any Sprint customer with a 4G enabled device, use it! Sprint will see a dropoff in their usage of the 4G network due to the fact that many users will switch to the 3G powered iPhones. With that said, the Sprint 4G network should see an increase in customer satisfaction while they work on fixing the issues with their 3G network overload.
iPhone 5: Watch out AT&T
I worry particularly for AT&T regarding rumors that iPhone 5 will be powered by 4G. As of Nov. 6, AT&T will rollout 4G technology in 4 new markets, bringing their total 4G coverage to just 9 markets. Compare that to over 80 offered by Sprint, and 145 offered by Verizon, and Houston (one of AT&T’s 4G markets) we have a problem. Verizon’s 4G is expected to cover over 50% of Americans by tomorrow, November 3rd, 2011.
Now, AT&T does offer HSPA+, often considered 3.5G. Although in most cases this will run faster than Sprint 4G, it is certainly not a selling point. When selling technology, the term 4G excites the consumer mindset, regardless of what it really is.
At the end of the day, Sprint joined the party. A lot of people educated on the subject matter believe with this move, Sprint goes forward. I guess time will tell, but in the meantime, sign me up.