Saleh served as interim Sprint Nextel’s CEO for the past two months.

Hesse is the former chairman, president and CEO of Embarq Corporation and is 54 years old.

"I am honored and excited to lead Sprint Nextel at this important time in its history," said Hesse. "There is no company in the wireless industry with a stronger set of assets. I believe through solid execution and commitment to our customers we can reinvigorate our operating performance and return the company to a growth trajectory. We will review every aspect of our strategy as we intend to lead Sprint to the forefront of the wireless industry."

However, most of Hesse’s career was spent with AT&T. Sprint Nextel’s new CEO has been with the telecom company for 23 years, holding the president and CEO of AT&T Wireless Services positions between 1997 and 2000.

The Board of Directors also announced it had elected Hance to continue serving as non-executive chairman. Hance, 63, is a senior adviser to the Carlyle Group and retired vice chairman and board member of Bank of America. He has been a Sprint board member since February 2005.