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Sprint PCS


on Monday became the second wireless company this month to announce the departure of its president.



said Charles Levine is retiring as president of its wireless division, and will be replaced by Len Lauer, the president of its global operations, effective immediately. Earlier this month,

Nextel Communications


said its president, James Mooney, would be heading out the door.

Levine oversaw a comprehensive third-generation wireless-technology rollout at Sprint PCS last month. But the company earlier this month warned of a net loss in subscribers for the third quarter -- in a sector that is known for posting strong subscriber growth.

Kaufman Brothers wireless-services analyst Vik Grover said Levine's departure is perhaps a tacit admission by the company that it has "botched" its 3G launch. "You hate to see management turnover like that, when they're significantly missing their numbers," he said. "There isn't that much demand

for 3G outside of early movers." Kaufman Brothers has a sell rating on Sprint PCS shares.

Indeed, analysts report a slower-than-expected adoption of Sprint's high-speed wireless data services, though its new phones have met with more success.

In a prepared statement, Sprint Chief Executive William T. Esrey said, "Chuck Levine was an important part of the incredible growth and development of our PCS operation."

Nextel, meanwhile, didn't give a reason for the departure of its president earlier this month. The company, which once battled rumors of insolvency amid a growing debt load, has begun a turnaround since the end of the second quarter of this year. Much of that credit has been ascribed to Mooney, Wall Street observers have said.

Sprint PCS shares were up 2 cents, or 1.06%, at $1.87 in afternoon trading, after spending most of the morning session in negative territory. Nextel shares were up 49 cents, or 6.71%, to $7.79.