updated 02:40 am EDT, Wed May 30, 2012
Nextel iDEN to be shuttered to free up 4G wireless spectrum
Sprint Nextel on Tuesday reported that will begin phasing out the Nextel network as early as June 30, 2013. While the long-term plan had already been announced, Tuesday marked the first time that actual dates for shutdown had been discussed. This move will eliminate the signature walkie-talkie feature of Nextel phones. Sprint has already begun adding phones with a similar push-to-talk feature, with other connectivity technologies replacing the bandwidth-heavy iDEN in an effort to discourage push-to-talk users from leaving the network..
At the end of March, there were 5.4 million phones still on the Nextel network. Most of the customers are in construction-related fields who utilize the one-handed instant voice communication feature to facilitate working communications. Sprint is deactivating the Nextel network to allow for bandwidth for a 4G buildout. Nextel is at best a 2G network, with low data transmission and reception speeds.
While Sprint previously reported that it was expecting $3 billion in financing from Ericsson, Samsung, and Alcatel-Lucent, a $1 billion line of credit has been provided to facilitate the 4G expansion by the Swedish government and Deutsche Bank.
Sprint reported serious losses in its winter quarter, yet gained overall subscribers due to the strength of the iPhone customer base. Technologically, the existing Sprint and Nextel networks are not interoperable, which has led to significant maintenance charges per customer well in excess of other networks. Closing down the Nextel network should reduce these expenses.