Sprint's 'Severe Financial Distress' by Neil Savage

What's the best reason to get married? For money and a secure future, right? 

Sprint has improved in many respects over the last year, from ditching those annoying family plan commercials to increasing their coverage. Regardless, they're now fourth in the market and looking at a 52-week low stock.

In the midst of success, potentially crippling failure. 

Sprint's setback could be the key to getting a Sprint/T-Mobile merger off the ground, though, as RCR Wireless reports. The two giants tried to merge in 2014, but regulatory killed the deal. Maybe with a puttering stock, the deal will be viewed more positively. It definitely will be successful if they hire Kevin Durant to represent them.

Sprint Gets the Green Light by Neil Savage

Just last week, we brought news of Sprint's bold claim to soon have the best coverage. The company then reigned those boasts in by describing their plans fully: they plan to be first (or second) in coverage (in major markets).

In order to do accomplish such a feat, Sprint asked its parent company, SoftBank for approval and funding, not unlike the well-behaved teenager asking his parents to stay out past curfew on the night of the big game. Per FierceWireless: "Sprint has developed an approved network plan in partnership with SoftBank that will allow for a cost-effective network build on an accelerated timeline." 

Let's see: "Cost-effective." "Accelerated timeline." "Approved." Buzz word alert!

But seriously, Sprint's intelligent. They know the deal--they can't win the war without the best (or better) coverage. To do that, they have to spend, spend, spend. Sprint provides the vision; SoftBank provides the funding. (Oh, and "SoftBank" is a really weak name. We're not impressed or intimidated or awed. 86th largest company in the world or not... that name has to change.)

Sprint Gunning for Number One by Neil Savage

A zebra can tell you it's going to add more black stripes, but that doesn't mean you can't be skeptical about its claim.

Take a moment to admire that analogy, then check out Sprint's equally as bold claim, reported by CNET. In two years, they're going to have the first or second best coverage in major markets, according to CEO Marcelo Claure. Hey, we're all for dreaming big. More competition leads to better experiences for the end user. So, young zebra, go forth and make good on your claim! Full CNET article can be found here.

"Talk about bold. Sprint Chief Executive Marcelo Claure said he believes he will have a top-tier wireless network in less than two years.

"You can invite me back here in two years -- our network will be ranked No. 1 or No. 2," Claure said Wednesday at Recode's Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verde, Calif. He later clarified that he meant No. 1 or 2 in the major markets.

It's a tough claim to accept, given that Sprint is ranked in many network surveys as dead last -- particularly in data speeds. Though recent studies have shown improvement in phone calls and text messages, Sprint still lags behind the competitors in coverage -- especially in many major markets. Verizon typically takes the top spot for wireless coverage, with AT&T close behind. T-Mobile lays claim to the fastest network.

Claure, who took over Sprint last summer with the mission to revitalize the struggling carrier, gave his prognosis of the company. "The patient is doing well now, and I think the patient is in stable condition," he said."

Jeff Kagan: Winners in Wireless Networks by Neil Savage

In sports, there are always winners and losers. Same with business. Same with life. Maybe you've tasted the sweet, succulent success of being a winner before, but there's a pretty high chance you've choked on the bitterness of defeat, too. Don't really know where we're going with this opening. Thought we might have had an angle, but it sort of fizzled. Instead, let's just cut straight to RCR's article by Jeff Kagan. His opinions on the victors of the industry follow:

If we asked who the winners in wireless on the handset side eight years ago were, we would have said BlackBerry and Nokia. Today’s leaders are Apple iPhone and Google Android on phones like the Samsung Galaxy. The wireless world completely changed over the last few years. So what can we expect on the network side going forward?

Things change quickly on both the handset and network sides. Yesterday’s leaders are now struggling for survival. While Apple, Google and Samsung have roughly 90% market share, all the others squeeze into the last 10%. Today the next largest is Microsoft Nokia, which has only single-digit market share. BlackBerry has roughly 1% from what I hear.

Changes at the networks
With that kind of transformational change going on with handsets, let’s consider the networks.

Networks have gone through as much chaos and change, as well. Ten years ago the competitors were AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile US. They were all going through changes and challenges, but they were all competing well in the 2G, pre-app world.

Then, over the next few years, things started to change. AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless continued to grow to 3G then LTE, while Sprint and T-Mobile US didn’t. That meant two competitors were rapidly growing while the other two were not.

Now the wireless world is changing once again. Growth will come from new and different areas. AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless are still on the right track, but now it seems so are Sprint and T-Mobile US. What that means is all four are growing, but in different ways.

What’s important to remember is there is a split forming in the industry. Both AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless are on one side of this split. They offer a variety of wireless and wireline services. On the other side is Sprint and T-Mobile US, which are straight wireless plays.

So what changes can we expect going forward with wireless networks? Let’s take a closer look at these top four carriers.

Acquisitions in Wireless: 10 Years in an Infographic by Neil Savage

Everyone loves a good infographic. Also, everyone loves cell phones. And finally, everyone loves mergers and acquisitions (well, aside from the people who get laid off because of them). So most everybody should love the nice, neat display showing the last 10 years of wireless consolidation. Brought to you by Fierce Wireless, the chart takes a look at the rise of the Big Four as they gulped up regional carriers; together, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon account for 90% of the market, and lots of that growth happened at the expense of other carriers.

Interesting to note the relatively low amount of mergers/acquisitions seen by T-Mobile and Verizon over this time frame. Even more interesting, as Fierce Wireless reminds us, is back in 2005, only one out of every two Americans carried a cell phone. Now it's like every one American has two cell phones.