It has been a long time coming, but Sprint has announced that they will end-of-life their iDEN network as soon as June 30, 2013. The Sprint iDEN network is the only major operating 2G network left in the country, and possibly the last one in the world. As a recap, Sprint acquired this network when they purchased Nextel several years back and has been operating it as an independent network ever since because of its incompatibility with their existing network. The interest in the network comes from the push-to-talk capability, a feature still used on construction sites and in the government.
Sprint believes that it will be able to transition their existing PTT customers to their Sprint Direct Connect, which operates on their 3G CDMA network instead of the 2G iDEN. They will start notifying customers soon about the future shut downs, and keep reminding them as the date approaches. This is similar to the strategy Cingular used as it phased out its TDMA network several years ago. Some customers will be able to use standard voice services on their existing handsets but lose the ability for PTT, as Sprint has made several iDEN/CDMA hybrid phones, but most customers will have to replace their phones entirely to continue to receive service after the transition.
How does the new PTT stack up to the old one? Hit the break for more.
According to Sprint,
Sprint launched Sprint Direct Connect, the industry's newest PTT gold standard, in October of last year. The service provides broadband data capabilities, familiar push-to-talk features, and rugged and reliable handset options. Sprint Direct Connect coverage is expected to broaden throughout 2012.
Over the past eight months, Sprint has announced four rugged Sprint Direct Connect handsets catering to push-to-talk users including the Kyocera DuraMax, Kyocera DuraCore, Kyocera DuraPlus and the Motorola Admiral. Last month, Sprint made International Direct Connect available on its Sprint Direct Connect devices, expanding the reach of push to talk capabilities to and from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Chile.
So, no major loss of international capabilities, plus the bonus of high-quality handsets and high-speed data? Seems like a win-win for everyone involved. While a network shutdown of this type is always a major undertaking, we have seen successful implementations in the past, particularly with Cingular. So long as they offer deals to customers on the handsets, Sprint should see little pushback on this move. Plus, clearing up valuable spectrum is always a bonus, something Verizon knows all too well.
Are you still running on a Nextel phone? Are you excited for the transition to a more grown-up network with better coverage and real data? Let us know.