January 29, 2007 4:00 AM PST

Broken connection for Sprint Nextel

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Sprint's troubles with the Nextel migration could have been exacerbated by the fact that the company is trying to juggle several large initiatives at once. At the end of 2005, after finalizing the merger with Nextel, Sprint entered into a joint venture with four cable operators to develop integrated wireless broadband services.

It also launched its over-the-air music service and began promoting its data services to entice customers to subscribe to its new 3G services. In 2006, Sprint started upgrading its existing 3G network to the next version of technology known as EV-DO (Evolution Data Optimized) Revision A. And in August of 2006, Sprint announced it would invest $3 billion to build a new fourth-generation, or 4G, wireless network over the next two years by using Wimax technology.

"The company totally lacks focus," said Albert Lin, an analyst with American Technology Research. "Trying to create grandiose visionary initiatives, like a 4G network or a converged cable and wireless service, sounds good, but it's difficult to implement."

What's more, the company has been without a chief operational officer since August, when Len Lauer, who had handled day-to-day management of the company, was forced out. Sprint executives had said they wouldn't replace Lauer, but this month CEO Gary Forsee said the company would start a search for a replacement.

"Sprint has definitely been experiencing some operational difficulties," said Michael Nelson, an equities analyst at Stanford Group. "But management has recognized that there are problems and they're trying to right the ship."

In the meantime, investors and subscribers not willing to switch providers will have to wait to see if Sprint's management team can turn the situation around. At a market valuation of about $50 billion, plus the $20 billion in debt the company is carrying, Nelson said it would be difficult to imagine a takeover anytime soon. But judging from the other megamergers in the telecommunications market, such as the $86 billion takeover of BellSouth by AT&T, anything is possible.

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37 comments

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Sprinting to oblivion?
As a stockholder and resident of Sprint's hometown, I can only hope that someone on the bridge can get this rudderless telecommunications supertanker up to speed and pointed in the right direction. Kansas City depends on the payroll and prestige of this onetime great company, but many former employees and metro area residents wonder if the Nextel merger was a mistake. Sprint execs, please prove us wrong.
Posted by Tom CyBold (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sprinting to oblivion
Sprint merely acquired Nextel for its premier customer base . thats that , The merger was a mistake because Sprint has lied from the gip about improvements , all i have seen are more and more issues along the way, I am still a NEXTEL subscriber and a dealer.Im gonna tough it out til the end. The right direction? is for someone to come along and buy out Nextel from Sprint? is it possible? wheres Craig McCaw when you need him to buy a wireless company.
Posted by rjladdjr (2 comments )
Link Flag
If Any Company does:
deserve problems this is the one. Nextel customer service is the pits to deal with and will charge you with miscellaneous items consisting of anything and everything they possibly can. This has been coming for a long time and it couldn't happen to them soon enough. They're harassments of their customer base are well known but any empolyee cutting should come from the top rather than the rank and file.
Posted by oopscdazz (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sprint / Disney Mobile
Doesn't the New Disney Mobile Service use the Sprint Network.

Wonder if that will make a difference in the next quarter profits.
Posted by tephelan (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
sure does and that will do more harm to Disney than help for Sprint
People aren't stupid. If they know Sprint is behind Disney's service, they will know that the poor customer service and dropped phone calls are part of the deal. Disney's great reputation will not be enough to save Sprint.
Posted by direct225 (13 comments )
Link Flag
Good bye, don't care
Nextel's coverage was abysmal. They would have dead zones in big cities along major routes. I know because I had Nextel. The final straw was the Sprint merger. I told them so when I canceled. Nobody has more dropped calls than Sprint. And nobody nickel-and-dimes you more than Sprint. So good-bye Sprint. I won't shed a tear for you.
Posted by i_am_still_wade (250 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sprint customer service was bad even before merger
It took Sprint customer service over an hour to suspend service on a lost phone. It is just about impossible to prove that you are you when when you need them to do something like suspend a phone. Their web site has never worked right, especially for multi-phone accounts - we have six, but soon it will be 0.
Posted by delder (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bad Service
I gave up on sprint after several problems which began on March 2006. Billing issues and poor service forced me off and I was a customer since March 2002. Now I've moved off to Verizon Wireless and will not go back.
Posted by facerw (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You are not the only one, Sprint sucks.
Sprint did the same thing with me. Nickel and dime. The final straw was this . . .

Every two years I could get a new phone at a discounted price, then last year my phone was accidentally destroyed so I got a refurbished phone with-out a discount and was told I would get a discount this year. Then this year Sprint rep blindly tells me I would not get the discount this year because I got a new phone last year . . . . duh, I did not use the discount because it was not available and was the reason why I got a refurbished phone. To top it off they told me that I was not eligible for another extra year! I even tried talking to a customer service manager after talking with four different customer reps at four different times; to show them the problem with their phone upgrade plan. It was all the same response of disregard even though I had been a loyal Sprint customer for seven years! SEVEN YEARS!

I was quite shocked at how much money Sprint had sprint to get customers to in the end just tell the customers they don?t care if they switched to another carrier!

I?m happy to have switched from Sprint, my plan with Version is saving me money every month, I can do a one year contract which means I?ll get a discount on a new phone each year. Screw you Sprint, you suck! You'll be lucky to be around in eight years with suck poor service.
Posted by complex09 (6 comments )
Link Flag
No one is safe
It's sad to see CNET writers not getting the full story, or even forgoing being subjective on what went on with Nextels network before Sprint took over. Sprint's CDMA network doesn't even use the same antennas as Nextel's iDen. I can see the excuss of network overload but that was happening before Aug of 2005. People just thought Sprint would walk in, snap a finger and it would be money from heaven. People have forgotten just what a cell phone is and as with VoIP, people feel they should be able to pickup the phone and get a dial tone every time. Hello.. time to get a clue. Once you come to terms with what they really are (radios), you learn to live with dropped calls. As far as billing issues, hey, I've gone round and round with my landline provider, my cable provider, even my insurance company, so you don't have the market on that problem.
Posted by tc1uscg (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Don't kid yourself
Yes, what you state is true. But do yourself a favor, try a cingular phone for a week or two and experience the difference between a phone that works 99% of the time compared to any phone on either the Sprint CDMA network or the Nextel Iden Network. Cingular is head and shoulders above Sprint's service.
Posted by direct225 (13 comments )
Link Flag
Nextel no more
I was a long time Nextel user up until 6 months ago. I live in the Boston area, and started expierencing dropped calls, and issues connecting to the data network(lived on telenav). This started shortly after the Sprint/Nextel merger, and I hung in there as long as i could. I worked with Customer service too many times to count to try and resolve the issue, until finally I couldn't take it any longer. I wasn't going to pay for a service that I could no longer use. I switched to Verizon(just due to coverage areas), and have been happy with the service.

I recieved my final bill from Sprint and had a 400 dollar charge on it for canceling my service(I was a year into a 2 year contract). I contacted sprint and asked to have the charge removed, as I canceled due to poor service. The would not reverse the charge, as thier contract does not provide for a clause for poor service. It seems that SPRINT only has a guarntee on coverage, and not on acutal service within thier coverage areas. I asked what they expected me to do with phones I could no longer use, and they stated that I should just pay the 150 a month I was spending with them, and wait for them to "fix" the issue, which they said they were not going to do anyway.

So SPRINT wants me to pay for a service that they admited that they could not provide due to the fact that they have thier contracts worded so that you can not use poor service/no service as a reason to break the contract.

This is just not right. I would never go back to them now. SO LONG SPRINT
Posted by lstinpa (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sprint screwed the Nextel merger up big time.
How long does Sprint expect their bread and butter Nextel customers to stick around? The reason why Nextel grew like a snowball rolling down hill in a blizzard is because once everyone's friends and business associates had nextel, it was extremely convenient to direct connect with each other. Now that you can't make a call without sounding like you are in a fishbowl or flat out just dropping the call, people on nextel are leaving in droves to Cingular and Verizon. No point on sticking with Nextel if more than half or your direct connect contacts don't have Nextel anymore. It's been a year since the merger and the service is getting worse, not better. Regarding Sprint's service. It's not much better than Nextel in many parts of the US, so a hyrbrid phone will not solve their problems. It's no secret why Cingular had their best quarter ever...You can actually make a phone call with their phones that stays connected and doesn't sound like you are underwater or in a tunnel.
Posted by direct225 (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
this cracks me up
i am a customer service rep i know admitting to that i am going to get all kinds of hate responses, and i dont blame you i know sprint sucks but hey i work for a vendor site and well i have to pay bills somehow... anyway, the sprint/nextel merger has not had anything to do with the service getting ******, i dont doubt that the service sucks, but the merger hasn't caused that, sprint phones only run on cdma and nextel only run on iden. they cant run on eachothers so if nextel is starting to suck that is their fault and they need to check their towers, it makes me so mad when customers call in and blame the ****** service on the merger.. some of you wonder why customer service sucks... its because we have to deal with complete morons all the time who think they know everything about every subject, if you know so much... WHY THE HELL ARE YOU CALLING US?!?!
Posted by jessica_rachelle (2 comments )
Link Flag
networks never merged
It is funny how may subscribers comment that phone service have become worse after the merger. Unfortunately most of us are unaware that the merger was for financial reasons and no network has been merged. Actually, the networks probably will never be merged. Both are very different platforms. With the new PowerSource (hybrid) phones Sprint network is used for voice and data and the Nextel network is used for ppt only.
Posted by adnanonly (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Networks Never Merged
yes this is true, but listen at the radio ads ... about the guy with two cellphones ducktaped together and the other guy is going on about how sprint has the new hybrid phone uses both the sprint and nextel networks (FALSE) if you dont have sprint coverage but have nextel the only thing you have is PTT and if you have no Nextel and only Sprint you only have what? Cellular .. BINGO! i think that the ad is very misleading and confusing for most people. hell Id rather have two cellphones ducktaped together might work better than this idea eh? but yes you are very correct and they wont be merging the networks, their plan: shut iden down.... end of story
Posted by rjladdjr (2 comments )
Link Flag
sprint/nextel customer service
Customer service is not only bad it is outsourced to third party vendor ACS Inc. I have serious questions as to the security of personal information. CSR are rude, disconnect calls, lie,
and apparently are able to access your information without a login being documented. So any third party rep claiming to be Sprint/Nextel can access your info and do who knows what with it. Identify theft!!? How honest is the guy that is lying to you and hanging up on you? We are supposed to trust that this is not the guy that helped commit the identity theft that cleaned out your account. Is Sprint/Nextel listening to the customers about the customer service debacle. Sprint needs to evaluate the security and performance of their third party customer service vendors.
Posted by ladona23 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Spirit Airways too..
Think outsourcing Sprint/Nextel's teir 1 support is bad and security? Spirit (no Sprint) airways is doing this too. Dumping hundreds of employees onto the streets so they can outsource overseas. If find this amazing since when my wife got onboard as a part timer a few years go, he had to go through all kinds of back ground checks. Heck, my TS clearance in the military took the same amount of time and requirements.. So, you gonna tell me they are checking out all this outsourced employees for issues? Give me a break. I'll pay the extra and fly someone else.
Posted by tc1uscg (7 comments )
Link Flag
Sprint Sucks!
Their customer service agents lied to me on multiple occasions which wound up costing me $400 in early termination fees. When I called customer service to complain about their representatives misleading me, the agent actually said she didn't believe me! Avoid this company at all costs because I guarantee you will get overcharged. And if you ever need to call customer service for help you will wind up feeling powerless and taken advantage of.
Posted by Skipper1234 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Sprint Nextel Customer Service
Thats TRUE, there should be some rules to applied by gov that the secured information will not will out sourced. The Customer Service really bad, they are very poor in understanding the problem and solving it and won't complete your request.
Now a days these kinda companies are out sourcing the services to save the money but releasing the critical/secured data to unsecured places.
Posted by srlingam2004 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Contract with Spint Nextel
So what did you do about the $400.00 charge? I am going through the same thing for the same reason.
Posted by tomaeaton (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
and the list goes on...
i have recently come into the same problems as all of you. so the big question is what can be done? big companies like this have done "the unspeakables" (and i mean plural!) to many of thier customers for no other reason than greed...and the list goes on!!! they are allowed to do these things because of many reasons. so will blogs help? maybe someone will listen and do something. personally i think maybe we can start by saying "NO MORE CONTRACTS"! i don't know about all of you but i am sick to death of thier "contracts". if they do what they say and believe in customer service then they would honor this. but then again companies can't be dishonest without them and wouldn't make the kind of money than they would have otherwise. "contracts are for suckers" and they know it. why else would they push them. they call the shots and change them at will. thank God i left sprint/nextel but what about the other companies. i think a big step in the right direction is to stand up and say "NO MORE CONTRACTS"!. if we don't like the service we will go elsewhere!
Posted by skotters (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
good question
because we get frustrated! and unfortunatly we take it out on the first person that comes up
because we get the run around. like today i stayed on the phone to resolve and old issue and was sent here, there and everywhere including
the "spanish network". over 2 hours later i recieved the same runaround. i really couldn't say
whos fault it is but it seems wierd that it didn't start untill the merger. i don't blame you it's the upper management. that's why your there, to take the abuse. you don't think they want it do you? thankyou for your support
Posted by skotters (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The most outrageous customer service manager EVER
I have dealt with poor customer services for over six years with Sprint. I have wasted countless hours over the years on the phone trying to get fixes to billing errors and trying to get straight answers from different Sprint reps.

The tipping point for me was when a Sprint manager threatened to call *my* boss because she was mad I wouldn't accept her answer that there wasn't an address I could mail a formal complaint to.

Read my open letter to Sprint here:
www.dear-sprint.com
Posted by leftsprintforverizon (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I recently upgrade my telephone form just nextel to sprint/nextel and I have had nothing but aggravation from day one. Phone service works fine, but nextel direct connect & web access do not work. I have spent countless hours on the phone and in repair centers no one can help me, yet I am told that I pay for phone service, and that they dont have to provide me with the other features included in my plan. Word of warning to anyone tempted to sign up with sprint/nextel dont do it!!!! Customer service is the worst , and you will end up cancelling and going to another provider.
Posted by lynne30 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
i have been a loyal Nextel customer for 10years.. i now hold Sprint Premier status.. once Sprint acquired Nextel, not only did reception/cell service drop, but customer service over their 800# did as well. i miss the days when i could reach someone 24hrs/day 7days/week using Nextel's Corporate Customer Care.. nDeed-we lost a gREAT COMPANY when Nextel stopped doing business with it's customers.. well it's 2010, and 10years later, i'm SO READY to terminate my Nextel-together with-Sprint business, even @the cost of $150 termination fee... last week I already paid $50 to terminate a 2nd line... I'm flattered @their offer for me to speak w/one of their Account Specialists to try and save me as a customer... unless they want to let me try to HTC Evo 4G for 2yrs-COST FREE, there's really nothing else they could do to keep me! Regrets!!
Posted by iPhone4Gzy (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hi there... I just recently subscribed to CNET News and read your post from July 2010. I just made 2 posts today (January 24th) and wanted some feedback from people...it seems to me you would have stayed with NEXTEL had things panned out differently. Would you read my posts and shoot me your opinion? My screenname is Pleasedontgo.

Thanks
Posted by pleasedontgo (3 comments )
Link Flag
In nearly every situation I try and consider both sides of the situation. Here, we have the business side of things and the other...well my side. I used to have Nextel back in 2005 and can't remember having many problems with the network (call quality or text). No, it wasn't the fanciest network nor did I have a sophisticated cell phone - but it did the job. Since then I've has some of the best and coolest phones..the Iphone (it was wonderful, but the monthly bill-INSANE!). I've had a few Blackberrys..again, cool phone, love it, don't love the extra Blackberry plans we're forced to subscribe to just to use it. (personally I think it's BS...just another non- necessity to suck money from consumers)

The technology was fun...but in the end, I found that I really didn't access the web or my emails very much. Hell, It's not like I have thousands of friends nor am I an executative that relies on constant access to emails. I realized that I was paying for sevice that I used very little. Now, whats worse, is that the big companies (most of them) no longer have unlimited web. Even the ones that claim "Unlimited" have restrictions in the fine print.

I guess my point in all of this is that I've been forced to reprioritize things. Since the decline in our economy, my husband and I have both lost our jobs. He's now disabled due to permanant disk disease and I haven't been able to find employment in almost 2 years (except for a seasonal job this Christmas). Being unable to afford a cell phone for a while has made me realize that being able to just have one to talk and maybe text on is all I need. In the end all the bells and whstles aren't all that necessary. I really like the ease and simplicity of the IDEN phones. I also read that because of the kind of technology it is, in some ways it can be more reliable in certian situations than the GSM or CDMA phones/ service.

I'm really thinking of going to Boost Mobile, which will be more affordable for me. We live in Northern Virginia and rarely travel. If we do, it's back home to Boston, MA. I'd really like some helpful feedback from readers who can maybe educate me more on the IDEN network, some of it's pro's and con's that I may not already know of; Anyone with personal experiences, good or otherwise; tips, advice, etc...It would be great to hear from you.
Posted by pleasedontgo (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh yeah....Another question.... With all the multi-millionaires, billionaires...what is the liklihood of someone purchasing the Nextel Network, or entering into some kind of business venture where they invest in the IDEN technology and help keep it alive and help improve it? I don't mean to oversimplify the business end of things...I know there's more to it than I realize and it's not just a simple transaction. But I think it's an interresting idea and see a possibility for potential to not only keep current loyal IDEN/Nextel customers/fans, but also attracting new customers who are as sick of the huge billion dollar GSM/CDMA companies as I am.

Personally, I like having options. IDEN can't be all bad...The military, many business and private individuals have subscribed to and stuck with this kind of network for a reason. From a business standpoint, I think there's definatley money to be made here.

Tell me what you think....
Posted by pleasedontgo (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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