Sprint Nextel is eliminating about 8,000 positions in the first quarter as it seeks to cut annual costs by $1.2 billion. The third-largest US wireless provider said it will complete the layoffs, about 14% of its 56,000 employees, largely by March 31. About 850 of the reductions are voluntary and the company said it expected a first-quarter charge of more than $300 million for severance and other costs.
The company said it is also extending a freeze on salary increases. The company has struggled since acquiring Nextel in 2005 as technical problems, stiff competition for feature-rich phones, and poor consolidation efforts have led many subscribers to switch to competing services. It lost a net of more than 3 million subscribers in the previous four quarters.