At a his first appearance at the Re/code Code conference, Sprint’ CEO, Marcelo Claure, was talking some John Legere kind of smack – he boldly stated that he believes that in less than two years, Sprint will have a top-tier wireless network. His exact words were, “You can invite me back here in two years — our network will be ranked No. 1 or No. 2.” He later clarified that he meant they would be ranked number one or number two in the major markets. Glad he cleared that up as most were beginning to think he was out of his mind.
Under former CEO, Dan Hesse, Sprint never really improved – it just stayed the status quo, slowly taking one step forward and then two steps back. When Japan’s Softbank bought the network, there was a whisper of hope in the air as their CEO, Masayoshi Son, is known as a very progressive leader. Even he could not lite a fire under Dan Hesse and after reading the writing on the wall, Dan stepped down as Sprint’s CEO. Softbank immediately hired Marcelo Claure, another CEO with a ‘take no prisoners’ attitude, but even he can only do so much without the resources. The difference with Claure is that he has a plan and a vision and given the proper backing, he may actually be able to fix Sprint’s network, which would be a great thing for all wireless customers. Two weeks ago, he was on his way to have CEO Son sign off on his plan.
Claure has slowly improved the network, slashed prices, got rid of those awful commercials, introduced new family plans and even offered a new leasing program for smartphones. He is doing everything he can do to keep existing customers and trying to attract new ones at the same time with his cut your bill in half campaign. So far, it may be working, as Sprint was able to hang on to their number three spot, although now by less than one million customers separate them from T-Mobile.
If Sprint can get their network built out, what Claure predicts may actually come true. Sprint has three bands of different spectrum that carry data between a smartphone and the towers. Claure did not discuss how much this build-out will cost, but claims that CEO Son has made a “pretty strong commitment to build a strong network.” Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have all been working on improving their own networks, so Sprint will have to work fast and furious and pour in lots of money to play catchup, but it is something that Claure believes they can handle.