When it comes to content, Sprint Nextel has had some spectacular deals. It owns the mobile rights to the NFL, and for as long anyone can rem…

When it comes to content, Sprint Nextel has had some spectacular deals. It owns the mobile rights to the NFL, and for as long anyone can remember, Nextel has been synonymous with Nascar. But the third-largest carrier’s commitment to content is in doubt after mocoNews learned that its product and content group is in the process of chopping roughly 500 people, or about 40 percent of the team’s 1,200 to 1,300 employees. The information was confirmed by a handful of people, who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity, and either work at Sprint or are partners with Sprint (NYSE: S). A spokesman said the company is still in the process of notifying employees, so it cannot confirm any details at this time.

The layoffs are part of a massive restructuring that the struggling carrier announced in January. Sprint plans to eliminate 8,000 jobs by March 31 in order to save $1.2 billion annually. The cuts are expected to affect all divisions, all ranks and all geographies, except for any customer-facing positions. In the case of the product team, it seems to be getting its fair share, but no more, since several divisions are expected to be trimmed by about 40 percent, according to multiple sources. Two sources added that the product cuts will hit Sprint’s CDMA network, more than Nextel’s iDen network. The spokesman said the cuts will vary across groups.

The larger question is: what will Sprint’s role in content be going forward? Perhaps, on some level Sprint absolutely had to make the cuts because of falling subscriber figures. At the same time, however, it does not appear that Sprint was willing to take any Herculean efforts to save the division — despite the fact that content is seen as a way for carriers to differentiate themselves; sell more data plans; and prevent becoming a dumb pipe. Sprint spokesman James Fisher said Sprint remains committed to content. “We offer a vibrant and competitive product so customers can get the most out of their data services. While we may make some changes in different parts of the company, customers will continue to have a very robust experience when they are using our handsets.”

  1. Seems like they are prettying themselves up for a sale not necessarily a restructuring to survive the economy– who are the likely suitors?

  2. The fear of becomming a dumb pipe is the rational behind a lot of the industry slowing practices by carriers.

    Sprint is in the process of building the best pipe around, WiMax. The whispernet and Kindle has already shown Sprint's willingness to provide a good pipe to a product without any Sprint branding. Similarly Virgin is doing well as a Sprint MVNO.

    I think Sprint dedicating themselves to being a great affordable pipe is a fine direction to take.

  3. – @ digital bear: I don't think there's anyone left to buy Sprint Nextel, unless there's a foreign carrier really looking at expanding into the US (the most interested recently being SK Telecom, which doesn't have the funds for Sprint). The other option, although equally unlikely, is for private equity firms to take it private and reorganize it…

    – @mathiastck: I think you are 100 percent correct. Sprint is better at being a pipe, than any other carrier. Verizon Wireless has recently been more interested in this area. After all, once everyone in the U.S. has a phone, what's the next area of expansion? Machines…whether it's a Kindle, a refrigerator or a car…

  4. 2011. Where’s Sprint now? 8000+ employes gone. Ericcson DID take over network operations at the switch site and as the customer service improves, the network is not getting any attention. Yep, still installing those upgrades Dan? You know, the ones that won’t let you block text one way, same for voice calls? How about giving us more phones that do not allow roaming by choice? Moral, network at the switch level is so bad, the techs have all but given up when they can’t even get spares or the tools to do thier job. How about you lay off another 8000. I’m sure the stock my top 5 bucks, save the company another 350mil and you can toss more money down the WiMax hole. I have one word for you. ION.


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