March 02, 2015

A Conversation with Junichi Miyakawa

In November, Junichi Miyakawa joined Sprint as its Technical Chief Operating Officer, responsible for the network and technology organizations. This includes related strategy, network operations and performance, as well as relationships with key network equipment vendors. We thought we’d catch up with Junichi Miyakawa following his first 90 days on the job to talk about his priorities and experience so far since joining the Sprint team.

Let’s begin with a bit of background. How long have you worked in the telecom business?
I’ve been in the telecommunications industry for over 23 years since I founded my own Internet company back in the 90s. At SoftBank Group Corp, I managed the Network and Technology organization for Wireless, Wireline and Broadband Businesses. In recent years, I have been focusing on the expansion, performance improvement and stabilization of SoftBank Group Corp’s Mobile Network. As Marcelo Claure became the CEO of Sprint, I decided to become a member of Sprint in order to fully support Sprint’s network and overall business with my experience in telecoms and at SoftBank Group Corp.
Now that you’ve been on the job a few months, what are your top priorities for the Sprint network?
A top priority is completing the 800MHz build where rebanding is complete. In parallel with that, we need to continue to optimize the network and build more LTE sites for densification. In the long-term, we need to evolve to have a more reliable and effective network using innovative technology such as Cloud/Virtualization.
What kind of technical solutions and approaches have you brought from your experience at SoftBank Group Corp and applied to the Sprint network?
Performance of SoftBank Group Corp’s network was not the best from day one. About three years ago, following the major 3G and 4G site build, we began optimizing the SoftBank Group Corp network. We established a special team of engineers that formed the “Top-Gun” initiative and they put their utmost effort in improving performance. As a result, we were able to provide the most stable and best quality network to customers. In order to introduce this concept, we have brought SoftBank Group Corp’s Top-Gun team to Sprint. They are working with the regional teams sharing experiences and know-how and we are seeing progress from this collaboration. Another key learning from SoftBank Group Corp is the development and implementation of Operations Tools. No network is failure-free, but it is important to reduce the number of failures and minimize the impact. The most important thing is to detect failures immediately and act quickly. At SoftBank Group Corp, we developed and introduced automated detection and self-learning functionality, and we are now introducing these tools at Sprint. 
Any comments on where you see the Sprint network headed?
We still have a lot of work to do, but improvement of network performance can be seen in both internal and external reports. Optimization efforts are having a positive impact and the voice network is performing well. As customers spend more time on LTE they are having a better data experience, which is only going to improve as we densify the LTE network. I’m confident we have a strong team, and the right plan and resources to be successful. I’m excited to be part of Sprint and I believe the day will come, and is not so far away, when we catch up and even go ahead of our competitors.

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