PCIA 2011: Sprint Nextel’s Azzi breaks down supplier relationships, insight into network plans

DALLAS – Sprint Nextel’s SVP of networks, Bob Azzi, provided event goers with an overview of how the carrier interacts with the infrastructure community following its agreement to turn over network operations to Ericsson in late 2009.

Azzi noted that the carrier breaks down those relationships into “conventional,” “strategic partners” and “alliance partners.” The amount of interaction with these categories increases from very little direct interaction with conventional partners, up to a lot of face-to-face interactions with its alliance partners.
“Alliance partners are those that can’t get done without those partners,” Azzi explained.

Azzi also touched on the vast scale and scope of the carrier’s Network Vision initiative, which is expected to get more details later this week. That deal is expected to cost the carrier between $4 billion and $5 billion and could take up to 5 years to complete.
However, once finished, Azzi said the carrier will see reduced costs across network as well as be able to provide additional support for continued smartphone adoption and corresponding data usage.

The deal also will allow the carrier to initiate its spectrum hosting plan, which will begin with its recently signed agreement with LightSquared. Azzi noted that while the deal will help a network operator begin offering services that it plans to wholesale to Sprint Nextel rivals, he added that in the end Sprint Nextel will find value in the initiative.

“We believe there is value here,” Azzi explained. “We will make some money off the network hosting part of this. … We have to have some creativity, if not we will be stuck in reverse.”

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