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Ever striving to keep up with the Bells,



said Monday it would slash 2,000 jobs by year-end in a continuing drive to control costs.

The latest round of cutbacks hits the big Kansas-based telco just over two months after former

Sprint PCS


chief Len Lauer

took the reins as operating chief of the parent company. Lauer was lauded throughout his tenure at PCS for cutting costs and improving the company's focus on customer service.

Sprint said in September it would cut operating expenses by 5% to 7% over three years, targeting more than $1 billion in annual savings. The company said it would reach that goal by consolidating systems, eliminating redundancies and streamlining its processes. Sprint had some 44,000 workers at last count.

The cost-cutting bug has been sweeping the growth-starved telecom business recently. Just in the last month, all the big local phone players --


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-- indicated they would slim their payrolls to maintain profit margins amid another season of flat sales.

On Monday, Sprint rose 6 cents to $15.44, while the wireless tracking stock added a quarter to $4.60.