Sprint Nextel would not comment, but its stock value rose sharply after media reports said the company would carry the Apple iPhone 5 this fall.
The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday Sprint stock jumped 10.12 percent or by 33 cents a share to $3.59 after The Wall Street Journal reported a deal with Apple was imminent and that Sprint would handle the iPhone 5 in mid-October at the same time Verizon Wireless and AT&T would have it.
"If you don't have it, for some customers you're not even in consideration" as a network carrier, Rick Franklin, an industry analyst at Edward Jones & Co., told the Star.
However, "Is it a cure-all for all of Sprint's woes? I doubt it," Franklin said.
A spokeswoman at Sprint said the company would not comment on "rumor and speculation." Apple is famously secretive until the last minute about products in development and deals being made.
Industry analyst Donna Jaegers at D.A. Davidson & Co. said, "If it's true that the iPhone is coming, it's definitely good news for Sprint. It might be good for Apple, too."
The iPhone was available through AT&T exclusively from 2007 until this year, when Verizon managed to secure a deal with Apple.
A deal with Sprint may affect the company's service program that makes it the last of the big network providers to offer an unlimited data plan, the newspaper said.
"Be careful what you ask for," said Will Power, a telecommunications specialist at Robert W. Baird & Co.
The implication is that data-heavy iPhone owners could tip the scales at Sprint regarding its unlimited data plan option.
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