updated 04:05 pm EDT, Wed October 27, 2010
Sprint to slowly phase out iDEN network: Hesse
Sprint will gradually phase out its iDEN network, the carrier's CEO Dan Hesse said in an interview with FierceWireless. As customers sign up for Sprint's CDMA network rather than iDEN, the closure of the latter will free up the 800MHz iDEN frequency. Sprint acquired iDEN as part of its purchase of Nextel back in 2004, and shuttering it would push everyone to upgrade to phones that use Sprint's EVDO-based 3G network for push-to-talk.
Eventually, Hesse said, both of Sprint's 2G networks will be phased out, just like 1G was. There is the possibility that iDEN will make room for a CDMA 1X Advanced network, as indicated by Bob Azzi, senior VP of networks at Sprint. Vendors that would partner in this endeavor may be named before the end of the year, Hesse hoped.
Hesse also mentioned he plans to maintain the relationship with Clearwire as its 4G provider, despite earlier reports of having 4G alternatives like LTE. Clearwire is expanding into new markets, taking Sprint with it.
"So that is plan A," he said. "All I'm saying is that we do have a plan B."
Hesse went on to say Clearwire's TDD 2.5GHz spectrum is perfect for WiMAX, but the carrier could use lower spectrum bands for FDD-LTE service as well as offer WiMAX. A three- or four-year network modernization project aims to bring a multi-mode base station that could support LTE services.