@ Open Mobile Summit: Sprint CEO Dan Hesse declines to comment on Huawei, ZTE

SAN FRANCISCO — Sprint Nextel Corp.’s CEO Dan Hesse declined to comment on the the carrier’s reported exclusion of Chinese vendors from its upcoming network project in a morning keynote here. “First of all, we haven’t commented on media speculation on this topic,” he said at the Open Mobile Summit, and added that “it’s all pure speculation.” His talk closely mirrored the one he gave at Sprint’s Developer Conference exactly two weeks, but he did add some points about what he called the “G's” meaning 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G and beyond.

Networks and content will make the biggest changes in mobile going forward, he said, adding that "4G will radically change how we think about mobile.” Calling Sprint’s WiMAX network a generational shift from its previous network, Hesse said peak network speeds are less important than latency because “that’s when the network stops.” He also reiterated the carrier’s commitment to openness and talked about its strategy as a point of differentiation from its competitors. “When we talk about open it’s really the enablement of an Internet-centric model,” he said. "At Sprint we don’t make the content, we don’t make the apps, but with our devices, with our platforms, with our network, we make them pop.” Hesse mentioned Apple Inc. at various points during his talk in rather glowing terms. Customers that choose to buy Apple products give up things like Flash and openness, but also get something unique in return, he said. Although Sprint and Apple are at polar opposites on the open continuum, Hesse made it clear that he wouldn’t bet against the Cupertino giant. “There’s a trade off between experience and control. Probably the most closed system is the Apple experience,” he said, but added that Apple is also able to improve customers’ satisfaction with the overall experience by taking that approach. “The beauty about open is that you have so much choice,” Hesse noted. Finally, Hesse also talked about the tremendous shift in devices being purchased by Sprint customers. About 60% of the CDMA devices sold by Sprint in the recently closed third quarter were smart phones. There’s good and bad news in that, he said, because subsidies and costs associated with the network and marketing are higher but it could also lead to lower churn and slightly higher ARPU (average revenue per user).

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