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The Sprint brand is damaged


vryan44
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Talking to people on other carriers, and even after explaining to them about network vision, people truly believe that Sprint will always be inferior to the duopoly. Most of my family/friends/acquaintances have Verizon and you could basically say they laugh at the fact of switching to a different carrier, especially if it were to Sprint. Most of my coworkers are on at&t, and some complain about dropped calls, yet they won't try someone else. People act like choosing someone other than one of the duopolys is the difference between life and death. Anyway, the point that i'm trying to make is that Sprint needs to do a better job of informing the stubborn Verizon customers that their network isn't as great as they say it is. I will admit, they have a wonderful 1xEVDO network but from even personal experience, their lte is lacking. I see speeds of around 5mbps in the middle of the day even right next to an lte tower. On 700mhz you would think penetration would be great but it really isn't. Even At&t's lte stays connected much better indoors. To think people with Verizon think they are on a superior lte network, is quite scary. The big companies have them locked in paying premium for what they believe is true, when in reality it isn't. And people are too stobborn to believe their are better options out there. Just my two cents I guess.

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Inertia is a powerful principle in both physics and wireless subscribership. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest. And that is true for many Sprint subs, too. I probably should port out from Sprint, as I strongly oppose unlimited data -- it is not sustainable and is rife with abuse. But inertia keeps me in the fold. I have a long history as a Sprint sub, Sprint is a local company, I advocate CDMA2000, and I detest the corporate ethics of VZ/VZW and AT&T.

 

AJ

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Perceptions take a long time to change.

 

Just today I had Sprint LTE signal downtown and my speeds? RSRP -72dBm and I couldn't even hit 6mbit up or down.

 

Point being, Sprint needs to roll out LTE on all of their sites, deploy 1x advanced and LTE on SMR and take advantage of clearwire's spectrum.

 

Once they do that, they have something they can market and sell. At that point, it's up to the marketing and finance guys to put together a message at a price point that can lure people away from the duopoly.

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In the sales world there is (was) a seven year principal. It basically said that once you lost a contract it would take seven years for you to win it back. People will come back as they realize that the sprint customer sitting next to them has a better signal than they do. i think the last thing Sprint wants is a large and uncontrolled influx of subscribers. That would put them back behind the curve again. As far as I am concerned, let people wallow in their own ignorance.

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Once they do that, they have something they can market and sell. At that point, it's up to the marketing and finance guys to put together a message at a price point that can lure people away from the duopoly.

 

Sprint should take dead aim at VZW, which is more or less just bolting on LTE to its existing network. To quote a "Seinfeld" episode, "when you don't actually do the steps, you can do them pretty quick." And that, in a nutshell, is VZW's LTE deployment.

 

Years ago, Sprint PCS had a great message about building "the first all-digital, all-PCS nationwide network from the ground up." Sprint needs to re-adopt that message. Let consumers know that Sprint is re-building its nationwide network "from the ground up," something that no other carrier is doing.

 

AJ

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We have had this conversation for 7 or so years now in various forums.

 

Is it damaged? Yes. But the 7 year principle is correct. The arrival of the smartphone /data era together with the wireless era we are on the cusp of seeing mature is a new page for sprint. The time to change the name of the company was 2009/2010. That time has passed. The illusion that sprint can "catch up" subscriber or network size with the big two is also now long gone. Sprint will remain a value carrier until the next mega merger is over. The cost of renaming and rebranding would at this point outweigh the only benefits, which are in the short term

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We have had this conversation for 7 or so years now in various forums.

 

Is it damaged? Yes. But the 7 year principle is correct. The arrival of the smartphone /data era together with the wireless era we are on the cusp of seeing mature is a new page for sprint. The time to change the name of the company was 2009/2010. That time has passed. The illusion that sprint can "catch up" subscriber or network size with the big two is also now long gone. Sprint will remain a value carrier until the next mega merger is over. The cost of renaming and rebranding would at this point outweigh the only benefits, which are in the short term

I am going to go out on a limb here. In three to five years you will see sprint grow to about 75 million subs. I think that T-Mobile will see some significant growth also. Both gains will be largely at AT&Ts expense leaving Sprint and AT&T on equal footing sub wise and Verizon the undisputed number one carrier in terms of subs.
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Sprint should take dead aim at VZW, which is more or less just bolting on LTE to its existing network. To quote a "Seinfeld" episode, "when you don't actually do the steps, you can do them pretty quick." And that, in a nutshell, is VZW's LTE deployment.

 

Years ago, Sprint PCS had a great message about building "the first all-digital, all-PCS nationwide network from the ground up." Sprint needs to re-adopt that message. Let consumers know that Sprint is re-building its network "from the ground up," something that no other carrier is doing.

 

AJ

 

I think AT&T is even more ripe for the picking. Both are in a position to be plucked at by Sprint.

 

Sprint has done a rather poor job marketing its new network. I very much agree, Sprint did a fantastic job in the 90's and early 2000's marketing why sprint was different/better than competitors (pin drop for long distance, cellular static commercials for mobile). I suppose the real issue is, even if they marketed that a new network is coming tomorrow, in many places the network today is unusable. I had a friend from work try Sprint when the iPhone 5 came out. He ported two lines from AT&T and tried sprint out for the 14 days. For him, it was so bad that he couldn't take it and and ported back to AT&T, full well knowing (very knowledgeable about sprint's deployment plans) that Sprint would be better in the long run. His response was rather simple: I need something that works today, not something that might be better a year from now.

 

I think the ESMR band will really help. I can't wait for LTE and 1x voice on ESMR - it's going to be a game changer for sprint.

 

T-Mobile CEO making fun of VZN:

"The way they covered those dust bowl states with LTE, I think, is admirable… they have a beautiful network, incredible capability. They spent more money than a small nation building out that network. But shared data plans are a thing of the past. A 10-gigabyte, 5-device shared data plan, when Joe Schmoe Junior starts to watch porn on his phone, isn't going to work."

 

Verizon has enough money to throw at their network that I think performance should always be acceptable, just never exceptional. From a reliability perspective, the overlay seemed like a solid plan.

 

I think T-Mobile is making a lot of moves in the right direction. The new CEO seems pretty entertaining, to boot. Their price points are very compelling, they have a good lineup of devices, and I love how they are getting rid of subsidies and contracts. They need to work on customer service and coverage, though. Without having sub 1GHz spectrum, I don't know how competitive they can be against AT&T/VZN/Sprint.

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AT&T had a record Q4/2012 with more than 10 million smartphones sold.

http://mobile.reuter...130108?irpc=932

 

Verizon is claiming its best quarter ever with 2 million new subs added.

http://www.phonearen...Q4-2012_id38479

 

People don't care about cost I guess, seem content to be where they are and the shared data seems to be working.

 

Sprint will always be damaged goods to many unfortunately.

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Once Sprint completes more of its new network I really hope they try harder to get the message across to the people that their network is better than ever befre. If not, I think subscriber growth will continue to be slow. Right now most people perceive Sprint as an unreliable network. That won't change unless people are informed. Simple as that.

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A complete rebrand with an extensive marketing campaign following the network vision rollout and the buyout is hardly the worst thing that could happen.

 

I mean, if you're looking to erase several years of negativity surrounding the company, the botched WiMAX rollout, and completely overhaul the public perception regarding of Sprint in short order, that is definitely the way to do it.

 

The main downside is that a rebranding is very expensive, especially on the retail side, it would put a rather large burden on their retail partners and franchises.

 

Softbank USA?

Edited by gangrene
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Sprint will start promoting its network when they feel that is beyond reproach from the competition. Saying, "our network sucks in most of the country right now, but we're good for it. Trust us" is something they don't want to be accused of promoting. Sprint needs to wrap Network Vision as soon as possible. And when there is a solid 3G network and LTE coverage at 90% of the Top 50 cities, then they need to promote the hell out of it.

 

Robert

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I think Sprint in this area is going to have a really decent network in my area in about 2-3 years. Why? 800mhz LTE/1X and hopefully a few site adds they have been needed since 2006 or so due to city buildouts. If they still have competitive pricing and actually get the word out in this market that they have changed their tune, I believe they can take a good bit of the market from VZW and AT&T. Time and money...

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Sprint will start promoting its network when they feel that is beyond reproach from the competition. Saying, "our network sucks in most of the country right now, but we're good for it. Trust us" is something they don't want to be accused of promoting. Sprint needs to wrap Network Vision as soon as possible. And when there is a solid 3G network and LTE coverage at 90% of the Top 50 cities, then they need to promote the hell out of it.

 

Robert

 

Sure, but why even let a completely overhauled network be tainted by past baggage (essentially the reputation created by the lackluster old network)?

 

Its a completely new and amazing product, it might be worthy of a re-brand.

 

Appearing as a completely new corporate entity in the minds of the casual consumer, completely free from all past baggage and any negative association from previous failures might be the way to go. It's usually easier to start over completely fresh than to repair a damaged reputation.

 

Most people have smartphones, but most of those people don't follow this industry closely. People do talk to their friends, especially when they have complaints about service. And Sprint is just coming out of a long period of time where the network performance was suffering etc.

 

It *MIGHT* be the optimal business strategy.

Edited by gangrene
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I think what gets lost in this is how easy it is for ANY company to get a bad rep with consumers. My mom was on Verizon ever since she got her first cell phone. I told her repeatedly to come on to my family plan and I had the same feeling about her as is expressed here; that she thought Sprint was just a poor quality company. Verizon completely screwed up her billing one month and she said screw this and came over to my plan and couldn't be happier. So while Sprint has problems, all companies do and that will continue to garner them new subs.

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I was about to make a thread similar to this last week, but it was more based around this:

 

Most people have smartphones, but most of those people don't follow this industry closely. People do talk to their friends, especially when they have complaints about service. And Sprint is just coming out of a long period of time where the network performance was suffering etc.

 

A friend of mine posted a status update on Facebook asking his friends about whether he should go with the iPhone 5 on Verizon or Sprint. He lives in the north side of Chicago where NV is well underway and even I with my EVO LTE am getting LTE signals in many of the places that I go.

 

The comment list ran 30-something replies long, mostly filled with “OMG Sprint is still around?!” and “LOL SPRINT HAXORZ”-style responses. I chimed in with two fairly informative posts just to get completely ignored.

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A re brand is not going to make anyone forget about Sprint's Network issues. AT&T became Cingular, only to become AT&T again. Nobody forgot about their garbage network because they changed their name.

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I think what gets lost in this is how easy it is for ANY company to get a bad rep with consumers. My mom was on Verizon ever since she got her first cell phone. I told her repeatedly to come on to my family plan and I had the same feeling about her as is expressed here; that she thought Sprint was just a poor quality company. Verizon completely screwed up her billing one month and she said screw this and came over to my plan and couldn't be happier. So while Sprint has problems, all companies do and that will continue to garner them new subs.

Bingo. On top of that Sprint has had a bad name for several years(dating back to the good ole days). For some reason there have always been the Sprint naysayers and they won't go anywhere with a name change.
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A re brand is not going to make anyone forget about Sprint's Network issues. AT&T became Cingular, only to become AT&T again. Nobody forgot about their garbage network because they changed their name.

But that slightly decomposed garbage turned into a very beautiful orange :D

 

Seriously though, re-branding something isn't worth it if something new isn't offered. If Sprint decides to go after the re-brand route, it should be done after a significant portion of NV is complete. I don't see rebranding necessary, but if given the time, negative sigma of the Sprint name from bad experiences from pass(and current) customers will fade.

 

Besides, I don't see people raving about how good Xfinity is in comparison to good-old Kabletown...

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Sprint is the only telecommunication company to keep the same name since it started it's business and I like that about the company.if you change the name people will still ask what happened to Sprint oh they just changed there name to so and so or when someone is getting a new carrier and see a new name they might say I don't know this carrier so I'm not going to get them when I know these brands (Verizon/T-Mobile/at&t) better.

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Let's face it, AT&T (at least legacy Cingular, e.g. PacBell/Southwestern Bell/Southern Bell) and VZW have gotten where they are because of (a.) successful marketing and (b.) the inherent advantages of being on 800 in their core markets due to being the legacy landline provider in most of them. AT&T has also ridden the wave of its long period of iPhone exclusivity, and inertia has kept AT&T customers there despite iPhones now being available pretty much on every carrier.

 

Overcoming that means Sprint needs a better network, which it will have with NV + ESMR, and then following up with effective marketing; the latter has never really been Sprint's strong suit. But it can't be that hard; after all, AT&T's current marketing campaigns are (a.) we cover lots of cities and towns with something we call 4G but isn't LTE and (b.) we mock Verizon's "focus group" ad claim to have a better network than us with a creepy dude sitting with bunch of kids who apparently suffer from severe ADHD, and this seems to sell phones anyway. So, really, all Sprint needs to do is riff on the Domino's campaign (Dan Hesse in desaturated color in Central Park: "I'm sorry, our network used to suck and our CS was indifferent. We listened. Come back and try us!") and they should be fine.

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Sure, but why even let a completely overhauled network be tainted by past baggage (essentially the reputation created by the lackluster old network)?

 

Its a completely new and amazing product, it might be worthy of a re-brand.

 

Appearing as a completely new corporate entity in the minds of the casual consumer, completely free from all past baggage and any negative association from previous failures might be the way to go. It's usually easier to start over completely fresh than to repair a damaged reputation.

 

Most people have smartphones, but most of those people don't follow this industry closely. People do talk to their friends, especially when they have complaints about service. And Sprint is just coming out of a long period of time where the network performance was suffering etc.

 

It *MIGHT* be the optimal business strategy.

AT&T had an abysmal reputation 12 years ago. Network was completely overloaded in just about any metro center you went to. Look where they are now.
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It's disturbing to hear people that left Nextel (and there were millions of them) when it was imploding don't know/understand/realize that it was not the Sprint network folding. But yet, I have friends that left Nextel and would never ever try the Sprint brand because they believe they were one in the same.

 

Even the dim wits at my local Radio Shack would tell customers that since the merger Nextel and Sprint use the same exact towers.

 

We know the merger is history, we know the difference and what lies ahead but it's tough to change peoples perception.

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I work in marketing, so here is my full take...

 

I was just about to bring up Xfinity, but with the suggestion that this is the tact Sprint *should* take. Unlike Cingular or Verizon, Comcast is still Comcast--but "Xfinity" is the name they give their fiber optic network--which is now pretty much everywhere. Comcast still has an analog 24 channel system in a very small town that they have never upgraded--and it still goes by Comcast Cable there (although I don't know how much longer--they lost TV to the dish years ago, the phone company offers decent speed DSL, and even if they rolled out cable Internet and full digital TV tomorrow I don't see how they will ever get a foothold outside of the 50 or so over-80 crowd that probably keeps the service--I'm sure it will get pulled when the franchise agreement is up for renewal)

 

This would be akin to Sprint branding all their LTE devices as a new brand, while Sprint is still plastered all over the 3G devices--as the LTE network grows, so does the new brand until the new brand is primarily what is marketed, and Sprint is just the "corporate parent" that appears on the bill somewhere.

 

While I don't think a new brand erases all previous negativity, I think it goes a long way towards "wow--they must really have something new here... Maybe I'll give it a shot!"--which is what Sprint needs... SoftBank has done this in Japan in fact with their LTE service--it's called PacketNet, and the brand goes a lot further than just being the name of the data plan you buy. Comcast has a HORRIBLE reputation--but I've had a number of friends switch back to it "just to give this new Xfinity thing a try", usually in relation to their high speed internet.

 

The caveat is that if Sprint does this, the new service with the new brand HAS to deliver. In this area, Comcast coupled their new brand with additional data capacity to neighborhoods, as well as their Speed Boost... Which means a lot less issues with the Internet being slow as hell during prime times, and seeing 25 meg downloads for most files under 100 Megs even when you have 15 meg service. So I think it HAS worked for them, although maybe not in the full scope they had hoped (the TV service still blows, and they use the same crappy Motorola DVRS... Had they launched the Moxie box or a new custom TiVo like Virgin Media in the UK did, it may have had a better impact.)

 

As for Sprint, they need to finally address the coverage problems that they have, yet have never truly admitted. I think with voice and LTE fully launched on their 800 SMR, this MAJOR issue will finally be solved, and THAT would be the time to launch a new brand... When it is 90% launched or so, and they are ready for people to give it another look.

 

The brand perception I have always noticed with Sprint for years was "they have the coolest phones, but if you want those cool phones you have to put up with crappy coverage". This got them through the early years--I remember around 2004 the posts on HoFo were all about how Verizon had such terrible phones and how they only wished they could get the same cool phones Sprint had... The problem is that by around 2007 Verizon had caught up and eclipsed Sprint in the cool phone department, and Sprint lost one of it's key differentiators (the other being their low prices) and it became "Sprint has crappy coverage--but at least it's half as much as Verizon and they won't demand a $1000 deposit". As Forsee jacked up the prices and took on Nextel's higher credit requirements without fixing coverage, that eroded as well until "Sprint just has crappy service... Ewww Sprint!!!"

 

It is SLOWLY improving... If I didn't have the cheap plan I have, I was seriously considering moving to AT&T for the Sony Xperia TL and sticking there until NV was fully rolled out, when I would look at my options again. I *do* want my smartphone to "just work now"--but I also have been able to hang on to one of Sprint's previous brand differentiators (a low price) -- which convinced me to stick it out for one more contract--but i can EASILY see how someone on a full priced plan, with a nice new LTE phone that can get no LTE would be angry, and bad mouth Sprint to everyone they meet... And THAT is why a new brand could be good--but only when it is truly worthy of someone giving them another chance--it's the old "fool me once.." line... If they screw up NV they're done for--and even me, a pretty diehard Sprint fan, will be off to AT&T, even paying higher prices, in 20 months if I don't see NV of the majority of sites or if I end up having a bunch of glitches or handoff issues.

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