Sprint Nextel CEO Gary Forsee said Wednesday that the amount of time it has taken four cable operators to commercially launch the Pivot mobile-phone service has been a “disappointment.”
“The disappointment is, it took us longer [to roll out] because we spent time on the back office, to get that right, before we took it into the marketplace,” Forsee said, in response to a question on a call with Wall Street analysts. “And at this stage, there’s still some system work to be done to speed up that activation.”
He added that Sprint and the four cable operators – Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable and Advance/Newhouse Communications – are “committed to make this work.” Forsee also reiterated Sprint’s expectations that Pivot will be available in at least 40 markets by the end of the year.
“So far, the reaction I think from the cable partners is a ramping up that invariably occurs in their call centers and at their point of sale, and getting used to the systems that have been integrated across the company,” Forsee said.
Sprint did not disclose how many subscribers have signed up for Pivot.
Announced in November 2005, the Sprint-cable joint venture has begun to more broadly offer the service in the last two months after initial trials late last year.
Pivot is currently offered in 20 markets, with Comcast recently expanding around Boston and Portland, Ore., and Time Warner Cable, Cox and Advance/Newhouse’s Bright House Networks also going live in new markets.
“We continue to be flexible with the cable companies to try different things by market,” Forsee said. “This is not just a one-size-fits-all approach. Boston may have different needs than Austin [Texas] and Raleigh [N.C.], and so forth.”
Forsee also commented on Sprint’s exit from SpectrumCo, the joint venture with same four cable operators that acquired Advanced Wireless Spectrum in a Federal Communications Commission auction last year.
“This event has no impact on our JV, and was fully anticipated by our partners,” he said. “Our participation last year was at the time of less certainty around 2.5 [gigahertz] spectrum position, as well as the final disposition of the AWS auctions.”
The 2.5-GHz spectrum is a reference to the WiMax mobile-broadband network Sprint is building out, in a 20-year partnership with Clearwire announced last month.
Last month Sprint moved John Garcia out of his role as president of the Pivot joint venture and hired former BellSouth executive Keith Cowan to oversee the JV. On the call Wednesday, Forsee noted that Cowan “will also continue to work with our partners as they continue to consider a mobile-broadband strategy.”
Meanwhile, Sprint said the number of cable telephony customers it provide voice-over-Internet-Protocol service to grew to more than 2.0 million—an increase of 75% from a year ago. The company added more than 300,000 cable VoIP subscribers in the second quarter.
Time Warner Cable and Mediacom Communications are among Sprint’s customers for VoIP interconnection service.
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