Sprint Boosts JV Head’s Role

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With its joint venture with four cable operators nearly one year old, Sprint Nextel is trying to kick-start its relationship with the entire cable industry, expanding the role of JV president John Garcia.

Garcia will now oversee not just the wireless-phone JV with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Advance/Newhouse Communications and Cox Communications, but Sprint deals to provide backbone-network access for voice-over-Internet-protocol telephony offerings from other cable companies.

In an interview Friday, Garcia said the moves were made to make Sprint’s cable strategy more efficient. In his expanded role, Garcia will report to Sprint CEO Gary Forsee, as well as the cable JV’s six-member governing council. He had previously been reporting only to the governing council, made up of representatives from the four MSOs.

Sprint has had a long relationship providing the backbone network for several cable operators’ VoIP services including Time Warner, Mediacom Communications and Insight Communications.

The cable JV, first announced in November 2005, is a separate entity from Sprint Nextel. With the new structure, the partners will have a closer relationship with the telephone giant, Garcia said.

“We were talking to somebody who was an intermediary for Sprint, and they would go talk to Sprint,” he added. Now, he has a direct line to Forsee and other top Sprint executives.

The restructuring will mean that employees -- both from the cable companies and Sprint -- will be housed at Sprint headquarters in Overland Park, Kan., and Reston, Va., working on the JV full time.

In the past, these cable initiatives were “scattered about within Sprint,” Garcia said.

He added that his role within the cable JV will not be diminished despite his added responsibilities.

“I am still president of the joint venture, and my responsibilities there have not changed at all,” Garcia said. “I still have accountability back into the governing council. Nothing there has changed other than we moved the staff inside of Sprint for fewer handoffs, more efficiencies and access to more resources.”

For much more on the JV between Sprint and the four cable operators, please see Mike Farrell’s story on page three of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.

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