Sprint to Cut 6,000 Jobs as Profits Fall

Sprint Corp. announced  on Wednesday it would cut 6,000 employees, or 7 percent of its work force, as it posted lower third-quarter profits amid weak calling rates.

The No. 3 U.S. long-distance telephone company also said it would scrap ION, a costly high-speed network project.

Sprint said profits in its main local and long-distance telephone and data operations, or FON Group, dropped to $244 million, or 28 cents a share, down from $384 million, or 43 cents a share, a year ago.

Total revenues rose 11 percent to $6.72 billion.

The company employs about 14,500 in the Kansas City area and 84,000 worldwide.

Sprint also said it will restructure elements of the company's various divisions, including Global Markets Group and the company's fixed wireless services -- which refers to the operation of wireless devices or systems in fixed locations such as homes and offices.

The changes should save an estimated $1 billion annually starting in 2002.

Sprint's money-losing attempt to sell high-speed Internet connections has stalled, and ION was a vulnerable target.

Basically a souped-up version of a digital subscriber line, ION let customers connect to the Internet and simultaneously use one or more separate phones, all through a single phone line.

ION, which was announced in 1998, "just kind of fizzled," said Tom Morabito, a telecom analyst with McDonald Investments in Cleveland.

Earlier this year Sprint said it had scaled back the deployment of the integrated voice and data service while it ironed out problems with voice call quality.

Reuters contributed to this report.