In the US telecom race, Sprint Communications is the #4 wireless carrier behind Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile in terms of subscribers. While the namesake brand is reserved for premium postpaid accounts, Sprint also offers prepaid mobile access through its Virgin Mobile USA and Boost Mobile subsidiaries, which target a younger demographic. It also provides cellular access to other carriers and resellers on a wholesale basis. The company's legacy wireline business provides long-distance voice, Internet, and data services primarily to corporate customers and other carriers. In 2013 Japan's SOFTBANK acquired 78% of Sprint (it now owns more than 80%) and the company changed its name from Sprint Nextel to Sprint Communications.
The company operates in two main segments: Wireless and Wireless equipment. Wireless primarily includes retail, wholesale, and affiliate revenue from a wide array of wireless voice and data transmission services and accounted for more than three-quarters of revenue in 2015 (ended March). About 14% came from wireless equipment, which includes wireless devices and accessories. Wireline .
Sprint's corporate headquarters are located in Overland Park, Kansas. The company offers wireless and wireline voice and data transmission services to subscribers in all 50 US states, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
Sales and Marketing
The company serves more than 55 million customers with mobile voice, data, and Web services over a nationwide network.
Sprint sells its products through direct sales representatives, retail outlets owned and operated by the company, indirect sales agents, and subscriber-convenient channels, including web sales and telesales. The company focuses on the marketing and sales of wireless services on targeted groups of retail subscribers: individual consumers, businesses, and government organizations.
Sprint markets its services using traditional print and television advertising along with online ads and various sponsorships. Its advertising expenses totaled $1.5 billion for each of the past three fiscal years.
Sprint changed its fiscal year to end in March instead of December (the same fiscal year of corporate parent SoftBank Group). For that reason the company did not make year-to-year comparisons. In 2015 (ended March) Sprint posted net operating revenue of $34.5 billion and a net loss of $3.3 billion.
Faced with brutal competition from AT&T, Verizon, the aggressive T-Mobile and a host of smaller regional players, Sprint has partnered with other companies and shed physical assets to cut operational costs and increase liquidity. In early 2014 it cut jobs and closed more than 50 stores and a handful of call centers as part of its ongoing cost reduction efforts.
SoftBank increased its stake in Sprint to more than 80% in 2015 and reiterated its faith in the carrier's ability to compete in the US market. Sprint's main competition is with T-Mobile, another smaller carrier, while AT&T and Verizon fight for the biggest market share. Sprint had to regroup after regulators frowned on the proposed merger of Sprint and T-Mobile.
Sprint and SoftBank plan to form entities to relieve Sprint of the burden of financing customer handsets so that Sprint won't have to take on more debt. Sprint also plans to sit out an upcoming auction of wireless spectrum.
On the retail front Sprint entered into an agreement with General Wireless, which acquired more than 1,700 RadioShack outlets, to establish co-branded Sprint-RadioShack retail stores at 1,435 locations throughout the US. The co-branded stores will exclusively sell or lease Sprint devices and associated postpaid and prepaid service plans as well as RadioShack products. The arrangement is designed to provide Sprint with a substantial increase in its direct retail footprint.
Mergers and Acquisitions
The company is betting on strong demand for 4G wireless broadband services to justify the expense of its investment in Clearwire. In mid-2013 it acquired the nearly 50% of Clearwire it didn't already own for about $2.2 billion. Sprint plans to continue to fund Clearwire's LTE buildout as a complement to its own.