Citing “changing market conditions” that have caused its percentage of total revenues attributable to fixed wireline services to fall to just 8% during the last quarter, Sprint has filed for FCC consent to discontinue its remaining consumer wireline interexchange operations.
Submitted last Friday, the petition marks the end of an era for Sprint as a top player in the wireline long distance market, in which Sprint emerged as a major competitor against MCI after the court-mandated breakup of the Bell System in the 1980s. Sprint’s request also reflects conditions in the current marketplace in which broadband is king and in which many residential subscribers have “cut the cord” to rely exclusively on wireless services and devices.
The discontinuance plan would impact Sprint’s consumer message telecommunications service (MTS) operations as well as “Foncard,” directory assistance and operator services offered collectively under the “Sprint Services” name. Noting that subscribers may “purchase substitute long-distance services and features from wireless carriers . . . or from a host of other alternative providers,” Sprint advised the FCC that its plan “will not result in material harm to the affected customers.” The discontinuance plan does not affect wireline services offered by Sprint to enterprise customers. Contingent upon FCC approval, Sprint (which stopped marketing wireline services to new customers in January) said it would terminate service on or around September 15.