Sprint Nextel (S) is allegedly in negotiations with Telefon AB LM Ericsson to subcontract management of its cellular network. The move, which could cost Sprint as much as $2 billion over the next few years, would enable the carrier to cut costs by approximately 20 percent as it outsources 5,000 to 7,000 US jobs to the equipment manufacturer.
Subcontracting to Ericsson, if it occurs, will be the latest twist in what has become something of a slow-motion car wreck. While the recent recession has made hard-luck business stories common, Sprint has been falling apart since long before a tanking economy made self-immolation stylish. Whether through its horrifying customer service or its deliberate cancellation of demanding subscribers, Sprint has become a case study in what happens when a company dedicated to communication finds itself completely incapable of connecting with its users.