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Marcelo Claure
Marcelo Claure

Sprint’s stock has been on the rise this week following the unveiling of the iPhone 6, thanks in part to the wireless carrier’s “iPhone for Life” plan — including unlimited data, talk and text for $50/month and the promise of a new iPhone every two years for zero down and $20/month.

The company’s new CEO, Marcelo Claure, is making it clear that he’s intent on making Sprint more competitive. In addition to betting big on the iPhone 6 launch, Claure tells the Wall Street Journal’s Wilson Rothman in an interview, “We’re going to leverage the spectrum that we have in order to go back to our roots: unlimited.”

A big part of that plan is to make use of the 2.5 GHz wireless spectrum that was absorbed by the company as part of its acquisition of Seattle-area wireless company Clearwire. The company’s Sprint Spark data network runs on three spectrum bands, and the 2.5 GHz band delivers peak wireless speeds of 50-60 Mbps, explains Sprint spokeswoman Adrienne Norton via email.

Sprint, which came in fourth nationally in RootMetrics’ recent report, expects data performance to improve significantly as it activates more of those former Clearwire sites.

Sprint is facing tough competition, not only from wireless giants Verizon and AT&T but also from the surging T-Mobile, whose CEO John Legere reiterated this week that he expects T-Mobile to surpass Sprint in total subscribers by the end of the year, after the companies’ previous merger plans fell through.

T-Mobile had more than 50 million subscribers as of the end of the second quarter vs. Sprint’s 54 million subscribers. Meanwhile, AT&T is the second-largest carrier with nearly 117 million subscribers, or twice as many as T-Mobile.

Claure does intimidate Legere in another way, at least. “He could kick my ass,” the T-Mobile chief said of the Sprint CEO this week. “He’s a big guy.”

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