While aggressive price cuts at Sprint will help it counter similar moves by T-Mobile, it will still "be up to Sprint to prove they are worth staying with," Gold added. He said he remains "cautiously optimistic that Sprint can restructure itself to become a viable competitor, but it only has "a year or two to do so or the market will pass them by."
Sprint has vast wireless spectrum holdings that will continue to make it an attractive acquisition candidate. "They are not simply going away, but how long will Softbank be patient if things don't improve?" Gold asked.
Gartner analyst Bill Menezes said the number of complaints and concerns he has heard about Sprint have declined in the past year. He said that as the 4G LTE updates on Sprint's network have begun to wind down, there are probably fewer interruptions in service to enable the LTE.
Still, Menezes pointed out that any exhaustive national or metro area assessment of network performance is not a true indicator of a carrier's overall value to customers.
"Most businesses and individual users are basing their decisions on a carrier based on personal experience, and they don't care about carrier performance nationally or in a market across the country," Menezes said. "They are basing their decisions on how well their current carrier is enabling them to connect calls and open Web pages locally and on what their friends and family are telling them the experience is with other carriers in the same market."
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