Sprint Nextel says it is ready to handle the iPhone, even if it isn't officially carrying it yet.
Sprint is watching the network and investing in the infrastructure as needed to ensure a good customer experience, regardless of the rumors, Chief Financial Officer Joe Euteneuer said during an investor conference yesterday. The comments were reported by Fierce Wireless.
It's widely believed that Sprint will sell the iPhone alongside AT&T and Verizon Wireless. While Apple has set no date for the next iPhone, it is expected to come in October.
Euteneuer didn't confirm that Sprint would sell the iPhone, but discussed the possibility of getting the blockbuster device from Apple.
A bigger question remains whether Sprint will be able to keep offering an unlimited data plan with the device. Eutenuer said "we think we have great runway room," but kept the possibility open that it would move away from the offer.
"Offering unlimited data is about 'managing the network properly,'" Euteneuer said. "If we got to a point where we thought that keeping an unlimited plan wasn't going to create the profitable marketplace that we wanted, then we would have to look for change."
Chief Executive Dan Hesse had previously warned that the unlimited data plans couldn't last forever. As previously, even if Sprint offers the iPhone with an unlimited plan now, it may not be a permanent option. Verizon and AT&T have already switched to a tiered-pricing model.
Euteneuer acknowledged that the iPhone could potentially hurt the company in the near term because of the higher subsidies involved, but said the device has the benefit of improving its brand and reducing customer turnover.
"The benefits of having such an iconic device are really huge," he said.