Sprint aims to phase out iDEN over next two years

Aiming to streamline operations and reduce operating costs, Sprint on Monday said it would begin the process of transitioning Nextel customers to its CDMA network beginning next year. The process of phasing out iDEN cell sites will begin in 2013, it said.

Combining the two technologies is expected to save Sprint up to $11 billion over a seven year period. It will also phase out a technology that has increasingly become obsolete as consumers and businesses alike require more robust data technologies.

iDEN cannot provide broadband data speeds that are necessary for today's applications. With businesses playing a large role in Nextel's overall business, this disadvantage has caused many to look elsewhere for their cellular services -- which means moving away from iDEN makes good business sense.

"We're seeing an increasing need from our push-to-talk customers for high-speed data," network operations chief Steve Elfman said. "Marrying the industry's only sub-second PTT call setup with broadband data directly supports our customers' needs and creates an unmatched offering in the market."

In addition to the elimination of iDEN, Sprint is also working with Samsung, Ericsson, and Alcatel-Lucent to combine its disparate technologies onto a single base station. This would combine services operating on the 800MHz, 1.9GHz, and 2.5GHz frequency bands, thus further reducing operating costs.

Sprint's work to add the 2.5GHz spectrum -- the frequency that its WiMAX subsidiary uses -- to its new base stations seems to also suggest that the company remains steadfastly committed to the technology for the foreseeable future.

More on Sprint's new planned base stations can be found on the company's website.

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