Sprint Nextel said today that Chief Operating Officer Len Lauer is leaving the company and will not be replaced.
The AP reported that Lauer had been with the company since 1998. He became president and chief operating officer of Sprint in September 2003 and became COO of Sprint Nextel after the August 2005 merger created the Reston, Va.-based wireless giant.
Lauer had been running Sprint Nextel from Overland Park, where Sprint was headquartered before the merger. The company said Monday that Gary Forsee, Sprint Nextel's president and chief executive officer, will take over Lauer's operating responsibilities.
"Len has been an important part of the Sprint team for the past eight years and provided strong leadership and counsel," Forsee told the AP. "We thank him for his many contributions and wish him well."
"The decision behind the change was made as the company seeks to accelerate the pace of our transition and improve operational execution," spokesman David Gunasegaram said Monday.
Lauer, whose departure is effective immediately, was often times the public face of the company, keynoting at several industry conferences every year and by serving as chairman of the board of CTIA, the industry's national association. He is still listed as a keynote speaker at the upcoming CITA IT & Entertainment convention in Los Angeles on Sept. 12.
He also played a role in deciding what technology the company would use for its next generation high-speed wireless broadband. Two weeks ago, Sprint Nextel announced that it chose Motorola, Intel and Samsung to roll out WiMax.
In January, I caught up with Lauer at the Wireless Communications Association International conference in San Jose, where WiMax was a focus.
He said at the time that it will be critical to deploy wireless broadband such as WiMax in a couple of years because the number of subscribers using high-bandwidth applications will tap out Sprint's current network.
It is a "high-class problem," he told me.