NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sprint Nextel Corp's S.N acting chief executive, Paul Saleh, said on Monday he expects the wireless service provider's customer cancellation rate to improve through 2008 as it works to boost customer service.
The third largest U.S. mobile service has been losing ground to rivals AT&T Inc T.N and Verizon Wireless, owned by Verizon Communications Inc VZ.N and Vodafone Group Plc VOD.L, amid customer service problems and technical problems following its 2005 acquisition of Nextel Communications.
“I would expect us to show some steady improvement as we get into 2008, quarter after quarter,” Saleh, also the company’s chief financial officer, said at the UBS Global Media & Communications conference.
He was asked about “churn”, the industry term for cancellations.
Sprint’s churn rate for post-paid subscribers --those who pay monthly bills -- rose to 2.3 percent in the third quarter from 2.0 percent in the previous quarter.
The company had reported a 77 percent drop in third-quarter net profit to $64 million, or 2 cents per share, and withdrew its 2008 profit growth forecast.
Sprint has been looking for a new chief executive to replace Gary Forsee who stepped down last month. The company has said it was looking at external candidates for the job.
Sprint has been criticized for its plan to invest $5 billion in the coming years on building a new network based on WiMax, an emerging high-speed wireless technology.
Saleh said he was looking at ways to attract capital for the WiMax project.
Reporting by Sinead Carew and Ritsuko Ando; editing by Carol Bishopric
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