National Press Club

Sprint's OK, But Don't Regulate Internet, CEO Says

October 27, 2008 | By Jerry Bastarache

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse and NPC Vice President Donna Leinwand

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse and NPC Vice President Donna Leinwand

Photo/Image: Marshall H. Cohen

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse told an Oct. 24 NPC luncheon that despite the Wall Street meltdown, his company has a positive cash flow and "plans to revolutionize the wireless industry," but he warned against moves toward "net neutrality" proposed by some Democrats.

"Regulating the internet has horrendous implications," the 33-year veteran of AT&T told the crowded ballroom.

Reacting to current economics, he said a friend told him the financial nosedive is worse than divorce. "I lost half my wealth but still have my wife," which brought gales of laughter.

But he said, "We can get through this as long as we have a good cash position," noting that Sprint is riding a wave of "robust growth in internet use on mobile phones" with 262 million mobile phone customers in the U.S., an 85% penetration of the market. Worldwide, he said, 6.6 billion people use mobile phones with 1,000 people per minute signing up.

He said that "business is saving billions" by using mobile phone technology, which is no longer a luxury but a necessity.

Hesse precited that mobile phones will generate $860 billion a year in productivity and that by 2010, 4G (4th generation wireless technology) will serve 140 million people nationwide.

"Customers want a worry-free environment. They want simplicity," he said, noting that Forbes magazine rated Sprint in several categories of the top 10 mobile phones in the country.

He said the decision to move Sprint's headquarters from Reston to Kansas City was based purely on "economic and other issues -- we couldn't afford two headquarters."