It sounds like Sprint might be ready to declare iDEN dead. Phil Goldstein of FierceWireless passes along a report in which Bob Azzi, senior VP of networks at Sprint, discussed a number of issues related to the company’s future. Among the items discussed were upgrading cell towers, a possible move to LTE, and, much to the chagrin of Boost Mobile subscribers, the end of iDEN. It won’t be in the immediate future, and Sprint wouldn’t provide further clarification, but it does sound like they plan to allow push-to-talk over their CDMA network and discontinue iDEN at some point.
Here’s what Sprint plans for its cell sites, which will reduce in number from 66,000 to 46,000:
The carrier’s new multi-mode base stations will give Sprint the ability to deploy CDMA 1X for voice and data, EV-DO, WiMAX and even LTE via a software upgrade, which Azzi said could be added at a low incremental cost. Clearwire, in which Sprint holds a 54 percent stake, has been deploying mobile WiMAX across the country and plans to cover 80 markets by year-end. Clearwire also plans LTE trials in Phoenix.
Again, there is no timeline on when Sprint will phase out iDEN. The company also said that there will be no forced migration, which makes it seem like they’ll continue operating the network until people voluntarily move. I’m not sure what the cut-off will be, but I’m sure there’s a subscriber number and date at which Sprint will start migrating those remaining customers.
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