Sprint’s Apple Predicament

by Matt Klassen on August 10, 2012

As major North American wireless carriers prepare their networks for the inevitable data deluge the release of the latest iPhone will set off, questions are being raised regarding the ability of some of those carriers to handle the load, and for many it will come as no surprise to hear that Sprint tops the list of companies unprepared for the iPhone 5.

When Sprint jumped on the iPhone bandwagon last year concerns were raised regarding both the ability of Sprint’s network to handle the data load and the ability of the company in general to float the punitive subsidy fees Apple is now famous for charging carriers. It was a no-win situation for Sprint, given the fact that it couldn’t afford to not offer the iPhone—lest it fall farther behind its rivals—but also that it was ill-equipped to effectively do so.

Now with the upcoming release of the iPhone 5 looming on the horizon many are wondering whether Sprint is ready, or whether it will simply fall farther behind the likes of Verizon and AT&T.

It’s a difficult time for Sprint, with the company still working on recovering its tarnished image from a decade of poor customer service, still trying to discover a unified corporate focus, transitioning through the closure of Nextel and the relative abandonment of its Clearwire project. There were some that thought securing the distribution rights for the iPhone would help Sprint through this rough patch, but truthfully the phone that carriers love to hate has only made things worse.

As the release date for the next iPhone draws near the general public is clamouring to get its collective hands on the newest must-have device, excited about a faster more powerful iPhone. To that end, the newest iPhone is set to finally employ cutting edge 4G LTE technology, and this, I fear, will be Sprint’s undoing.

In regards to the development and deployment of a next generation 4G LTE network, Sprint lags woefully far behind the nation’s top two competitors, Verizon and AT&T. Due to its Clearwire misfire, the company has dedicated valuable resources and time chasing a faster network down a veritable rabbit hole, with the company ultimately deciding to forego its own Clearwire efforts and jump on the 4G LTE bandwagon.

That means that when the newest iPhone is finally released in the early Fall, Sprint will be the only major carrier who carries the phone but doesn’t boast an operational LTE network, meaning that Sprint’s iPhone users won’t be able to take full advantage of the device’s newest features.

But according to E-Commerce Times writer Jeff Kagan, the lack of a functional LTE network isn’t even the biggest of Sprint’s problems, public relations is. Kagan notes that Sprint should be able to weather the initial storm caused by the ongoing development of its 4G network if it reestablishes strong connections with both its customer and investor bases.

He goes on to write that Sprint’s long term struggles are not the fault of the iPhone—although it didn’t do Sprint any favours—but instead the company’s consistent inability to effectively focus on “advertising, marketing and public relations” has been its downfall. While Kagan notes that Sprint is making baby steps in this direction, without those strong bonds in place the release of the new iPhone could spark an exodus towards the bigger, faster, stronger carriers, something Sprint is praying won’t happen.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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