Ina Fried

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Sprint CEO Hesse: “We Stand for Simplicity and Value”

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said his company has eliminated 85 percent of the possible rate plan options in recent months in an effort to make things easier for customers.

“We stand for simplicity and value,” Hesse said, speaking Thursday at the company’s developer conference in Santa Clara, Calif. “It’s about simplifying the business in every way possible.”

Sprint has been making a number of changes. Although it continues to tout unlimited data plans for phones, the company has also added a surcharge for smartphones, curtailed its generous early upgrade program and, most recently, ended an unlimited data plan for its 4G mobile hotspots.

Hesse noted that customers want simplicity and that customers will pay for simplicity — in some cases even paying more for that convenience.

Hesse noted that Sprint’s stock has been under pressure. He said that stems from two big investments the company is making. One is on building its next-generation network; the other is by offering big subsidies on the iPhone.

“They are going to be a big cash drain,” he said, adding that both, however, are necessary.

“Having a great network is just table stakes to being a great wireless company,” Hesse said. “We are going to do what it takes.”

That said, the moves will come at a cost.

“We’re going to have to go to the markets and borrow money — we’ve said it,” Hesse said.

Hesse took the stage to a loud round of applause. “I can tell I am not at a shareholders’ meeting.”

Update: On the device side, Hesse declined to offer much in the way of roadmaps for the future, but said that Sprint plans to introduce LTE devices next year, as well as supporting all of the major phone operating systems. “We will continue to support Android, iOS, RIM and Windows,” he said.

Sprint’s current 4G technology uses WiMax, but the company has said it will start building an LTE network next year. Hesse said the plan is to have devices with WiMax and CDMA and those with LTE and CDMA, but not necessarily any that have both WiMax and LTE support.

Asked about the AT&T-T-Mobile merger, Hesse said, “basically it is in the courts. That’s all I can really say at this point.”

As for whether Sprint might buy assets if the merger does go through and AT&T is forced to divest certain assets: “I’m not going to speculate on what Sprint may or may not do,” he said.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus