Sprint loses tech chief after years of wrestling with network issues

The company will lean on Chief Network Officer John Saw and Technical Chief Operating Officer Junichi Miyakawa for the rest of its network build out.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
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One of the men responsible for Sprint's ambitious -- but oft-delayed -- project to upgrade its wireless network is set to leave the wireless carrier.

Chief Technology Officer Stephen Bye will leave Sprint in July. Sprint

Sprint confirmed that Chief Technology Officer Stephen Bye would leave to "pursue other opportunities." He has agreed to stay until July 24 to work with Chief Network Officer John Saw and Technical Chief Operating Officer Junichi Miyakawa on the plans for the network. FierceWireless was the first to report on the departure.

The nation's third-largest wireless carrier is losing the man who helped roll out its Network Vision plan to replace its existing 3G wireless network and lay the foundation for faster 4G service. The project, however, was marred by delays and poor coverage service, a phase former CEO Dan Hesse often referred to as "pardon our dust." More recently, Sprint has made strides in improving its voice call and text message quality, although it still lags behind the other carriers in data speeds.

Bye, who joined Sprint in 2011, is the latest in a line of network executives who have left the company. Last year, Sprint lost Steve Elfman, president of network operations, Bob Aziz, senior vice president of networks and Iyad Tarazi, vice president of network technology development and integration.

Bye has no immediate plans beyond spending time with his family, he said in an e-mail. "I have been away for so many special family events, it's now time for me to focus on that which is so important to me," he said.

One of the issues with Sprint was the pace at which it deployed its 4G LTE network, at one point falling behind T-Mobile despite starting significantly earlier. But the company had to deal with working with different bands of spectrum, building out its network in cities with a lot of red tape as well as its acquisition by Japanese carrier SoftBank.

But Bye believes he is leaving Sprint in a good place. "I feel very good about what we have achieved, where we stand today and the future of the Sprint network," he said.

Under new CEO Marcelo Claure, Sprint is angling to change the perception of the network. He has boasted that within two years, Sprint's coverage will be No. 1 or 2 in the nation, suggesting he will surpass AT&T, Verizon or both.

Updated at 2:03 p.m. PT: To include a comment from Bye.