Could Sprint CEO's departure jeopardize its WiMax plans?

Analysts mixed, Sprint says Xohm WiMax is 'business as usual'

Still, Kerton and other analysts said Sprint's investment in 2.5 GHz licenses for WiMax uses are unique. "That's a good investment and can't be immediately copied by competitors, " Kerton said. "Xohm is not a guaranteed success, but a good risk. And if it succeeds, you've really got something."

Poor marketing at Sprint, subscriber churn and problems retaining Nextel customers after the merger led to Forsee's departure, and are now leading to questions about the future of Xohm, Kerton said.

Gartner's Phillip Redman said Forsee's resignation "probably" won't hurt Xohm's growth because Sprint has to launch WiMax over the 2.5 GHz frequency by 2009 or the company could lose it under US Federal Communications Commission rules.

"Yes, with the FCC rules about spectrum, it's use it or lose it," added Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. "To not use it at Sprint would be foolish. WiMax is probably Sprint's best bet to differentiate themselves from the crowd.

"Some new CEO could come in and pull the plug on Xohm, but I don't think it will happen," Gold added.

Before hiring a new CEO, Redman said Sprint should examine what type of company it wants to be, "not all things to all markets." If Sprint wants to focus on consumer segments with cellular and Xohm, it needs an executive with consumer marketing and consumer product experience, he said.

Ideally, the new CEO should be someone who understands the important changes going on in the industry, such as the combining of Internet, media and communications, rather than an executive from the traditional telecommunications industry, Marshall said.

Sprint needs to be "rearchitected" before hiring a CEO, added Gold, much the same as IBM did after it missed the PC revolution. "WiMax could really lead in this space," he said.

There needs to be a serious evalution of Sprint's mission before installing another CEO, Kerton said. "Pulling the coach and slapping in another, I don't know if that solves anything," he said.

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