Sprint's Framily friends and family plan is off to a good start. So says Chief Financial Officer Joe Euteneuer, who spoke at a Deutsche Bank investor conference on Monday.
At a time when the wireless carriers are either slashing prices or pushing for family members to sign up together to save money, Framily is Sprint's most potent weapon to fend off the competitive pressure. The plan is simple: the more people sign up, the bigger the savings. Individuals get separate bills, so people can go beyond their direct family and join together with friends and acquaintances.
Euteneuer said he likes Framily because it turns Sprint's own customers into marketing advocates for the service, with people eager to sign up friends and family to save money on their own plan.
"It's clearly been well received," Euteneuer said at the event, which was also Webcast. "Maybe it's done a little better than expectations."
Still, he said, it remains early in the process and Sprint only offers the plan in its direct Sprint-branded stores. The company is working to expand the offer to other distributors.
Sprint has been hesitant to get too aggressive in marketing because it has been focused on getting its network upgraded. The carrier ranks last among the national players when it comes to 4G LTE coverage and speed, and has been racing to catch up with its rivals, both overhauling its existing 3G network while building out the 4G infrastructure as well.
It's the "Pardon our dust" phase that has caused a lot of pain at the carrier, with customer turnover rates unusually high. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, Euteneuer said, noting that the turnover rates fall back down to the pre-construction levels once the 4G LTE deployment is about 70 percent done.
He added Sprint was only really marketing Framily aggressively in markets where the network was built out, like in Chicago. He hinted that Sprint would get more aggressive toward the second half of the year, when more of the network deployments have been rolled out.
Euteneuer also weighed in on the recent chatter about consolidation in the industry -- namely talk of Sprint and T-Mobile merging -- saying he thought the industry would operate better with three competitors rather than four. He didn't specifically comment about his company or T-Mobile.