Sprint Rallies with New Wireline Business Services Developments

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets:

  • Wireline revenue erosion aside, Sprint continues to invest and keep its wireline services portfolio fresh.
  • Sprint returns to transport with Ethernet Wave, but there is little room to differentiate in this highly competitive space.

For many years now, Sprint has been meeting its challenges in wireless while facing ongoing struggles in its wireline business services.  As a wireless provider, Sprint has household name brand recognition.  Fewer people know the company as a still-major national and global provider of an array of business services.  In wireline, the provider has focused on retaining existing customers with high-quality service instead of investing heavily to recruit new clients.  Sprint has shown very high customer satisfaction for its business wireline services.  However, factors such as falling prices, discontinued legacy services and natural attrition have taken their toll: For H1 2013, for example, Sprint’s net wireline revenues were down 10% year-over-year from H1 2012; wireless now represents about 90% of Sprint’s revenues and profits.

Yet, Sprint also continues to invest and develop its wireline sector services, keeping its portfolio fresh.  Ongoing development of the company’s Compass customer portal is one example: Sprint originally launched Compass for its IP services, then folded in managed WAN/managed CPE services and added its voice/UC services; it plans to add its cloud services as well, all under one umbrella.  Google Maps provides a geographic view of network resources, while simple collapsible menus and filters make it easy for administrators to navigate their enterprise network by inventory and performance metrics.

Besides new Sprint Compass features and usability enhancements, the snappy responsiveness of the Compass portal is also important, as seen in a recent live demonstration given by Sprint executives.  Current Analysis analysts have seen numerous live customer portal demos, and most providers have intuitive, feature-rich offers.  However, portal demonstrations typically bog down – some frequently – while the portal polls other systems, to retrieve data and populate forms.  Network administrators probably aren’t fans of click-and-wait portal interfaces.

Separately, in late August, Sprint added Ethernet wavelength services to its portfolio, supporting 10, 40 and 100 Gbps point-to-point, long-haul Ethernet wave services initially reaching 88 U.S. locations; Sprint will continue to expand the service through 2014.  While plenty of other providers have already lit 100 Gbps wavelengths, this is Sprint’s first foray into offering off-the-shelf wavelength services to customers.

Sprint’s national wavelength services line up with the company’s wireless efforts; these are part of the overall Network Vision project to streamline networks and maximize efficiency.  Sprint already has an internal business case for deploying its national DWDM fabric.  What remains to be seen is how aggressive a wavelength competitor the company plans to become.  Given the enormous pressure that wavelength prices have already undergone, there is not much room to be a low-price alternative.  Having another wavelength player on the national scene, however, will turn up the competitive heat a little more.

About Brian Washburn
Brian Washburn is Research Director for Network Services at Current Analysis. Brian tracks the technology and initiatives surrounding carrier Ethernet, IP-VPNs, optical networking and applications closely tied to high-performance networking.

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