Speaking at the second day of the Wells Fargo’s 2015 Securities Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, Sprint CFO Tarek Robbiati said he expects T-Mobile will face some ill effects in the wake of the Tuesday launch of its free video streaming service, dubbed Binge On.
“I think the word ‘binge’ is very apropos,” Robbiati said. “The fundamental issue is network capacity and spectrum capacity, and there’s no shortcut there. That’s why I think there’s going to be a hangover there.”
Robbiati said Sprint doesn’t face the same issue thanks to its wide spectrum holdings, and said the carrier isn’t threatened by such price slashing tactics.
“We don’t feel the need to cut price…we’re very price competitive,” Robbiati said. “What we need to do is communicate the value that’s already there to the market.”
Robbiati said increased marketing efficiency will be just one of the many ways Sprint will cut costs over the next year. Reiterating statements made on Sprint’s third quarter earnings call, Robbiati said the company is scrutinizing each line of its P&L to see where cuts can be made and asking for productivity increases across the board.
“Sprint struck me from the outside as still fresh in the company as being very complex business,” Robbiati said. “It doesn’t have to be that complex…It’s not acceptable and we will not accept to keep the company in that state. Now is the time to challenge the cost structure…We can be more efficient.”
Expenses the company is particularly focused on cutting include service costs from roaming charges to competition and backhaul costs, as well debt costs that include $2 billion in annual interest payments on $32 billion in debt. Robbiati said Sprint will also look to make its advertising more efficient and personalized rather than painting with a broad – and wasteful – brush.
But Robbiati said the company’s turnaround isn’t just based on slashing costs. A key element to the plan, he said, is to generate funding for the business, which the company is looking to do through the formation of a new handset lease company.
Robbiati said the new business will include both financial and supply chain partners, and will help raise capital in a cheaper way. The new venture will also transfer credit risk and residual handset value risk from Sprint to an outside entity, he said.
Since CEO Marcelo Claure took the reins, Robbiati said the company has made headway on improving its network as well. According to Robbiati, both carrier aggregation and moving the network to multi-band spectrum have allowed Sprint to make material gains in network performance, particularly in the metrics of dropped calls, time on LTE and speed. Robbiati said currently more than 80 percent of Sprint’s traffic is on LTE and the network is delivering speeds of up to 75 megabits per second.
In addition to improving those three metrics, Robbiati said the company will also continue to work to reduce churn, which dipped down to a record-low 1.54 percent for Sprint in the third quarter. Robbiati said he believes the company is capable of cutting that number in half going forward, an effort that he expects will be aided by reduced churn rates as a result of the handset lease program.
Despite fierce competition within the industry, Robbiati said he believes the United States is a large enough market for all four players to be successful.
“(The United States) is a market that has essentially a duopoly at the top and two smaller players at the bottom who are fighting for market share,” Robbiati said. “(But) it is the largest market in the world…so there is room for all four players to be successful.”