Sprint's (NYSE: S) Q4: Declining voice, data revenues eat into wireline profit

With the majority of the attention at Sprint (NYSE: S) is focused on its wireless growth, it's easy to forget about the performance of its wireline segment, which like many incumbent operators continues to work through IP growing pains.

As has been the trend in Sprint's wireline segment in its most recent quarters, wireline revenue again declined due to the shrinking of its once cash-cow long distance voice service.

During the fourth quarter, Sprint's wireline revenue declined 7 percent year-over-year to $1.2 billion, a factor it attributes to reduced voice volume and rate and lower data revenues. On a quarterly sequential basis, wireline revenues were about 2 percent lower due mostly to voice volume reductions.

One continual bright spot for Sprint's wireline business is that it continues to reduce total operating expenses. Due to its continual migration to IP--one that its enterprise customers are continually making--wireline total operating expenses were down almost 11 percent year-over-year to $1.1 billion due to a continued decline of voice volume, and improvement in SG&A expenses.

In related news, Sprint appears to be giving its wireline channel a bit more love as a report in Channel Partners revealed that Sprint has consolidated its Business Solutions Partner Program under one common service umbrella.

As part of that effort, Sprint has tasked Brian C. Wesolowski to reinvigorate as its wireline channel new national manager of indirect sales with a focus on wireline services, an effort that's been eclipsed by an almost sole focus on wireless services following its acquisition of Nextel.

"It is our concerted goal to grow the wireline indirect channel, to foster partnerships, expand our partnerships and address segment needs and requirements that we really haven't been in a position, up to this point, to address if for no other reason than our focus as a company," Wesolowski told Channel Parnters.

Wesolowski joins Monnie McGaffigan, who in December was named vice president of Sprint's wireline, international and strategic alliances.

So what's all of this add up to for Sprint's wireline division?

The new focus on wireline channels is coupled with its ongoing moves to offer both wireless/wireline and Unified Communications (UC) services, including its recent partnership with Smoothstone to deliver a series of cloud-based UC applications that can be carried over its wireline MPLS network and wireless networks.

For more:
- see the earnings release
- see FierceTelecom's Q4 earnings summary
- here's FierceWireless' take
- here's Channel Partners' article

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Sprint introduces enterprise-grade cloud service
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Sizing up the wireline industry in the third quarter 2010
Sprint's IP migration brought down Q2 wireline revenues