John Paczkowski

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Sprint: Adding iPhones Actually Lightens Our Load

Is the iPhone more data efficient than its Android rivals? Sprint CEO Dan Hesse says it is.

During an earnings call Wednesday, Hesse claimed iPhones use about half the network resources required by Android handsets, a feature that weighed heavily in the carrier’s decision to add Apple’s device to its portfolio.

“There is a misperception that our launch of the iPhone will increase the load on Sprint’s 3G network and require us to spend more 3G capital,” Hesse said. “The reverse is true. iPhone users are expected to use significantly less 3G than the typical user of a dual-mode 3G, 4G device. Even adjusting for more total new customers being added to the network, we believe they will put less load on our 3G network than they would have if we did not carry the iPhone.”

In other words, Sprint believes the iPhone is so data efficient that it will help the company continue to offer unlimited data plans for its smartphones — even following the debut of iCloud, whose services are presumably on the data-heavy side. Evidently, Apple’s strict network efficiency requirements, which prohibit apps from pinging networks as often as those on other operating systems, and the iPhone’s ability to quickly offload data onto Wi-Fi goes a long way toward reducing network congestion.

So the iPhone will likely be a big boon for Sprint, though one that’s not without risks. The carrier says the device’s benefits won’t exceed its costs until 2015. And in the meantime it may need $7 billion in new financing to cover up-front and network costs related to it.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald