Sprint has confirmed what many insiders have already for months: Sprint has set a June 2013 date as the hard date for the complete sunset of the carrier’s longstanding iDEN network.
The shutdown is currently happening in a two-phase process: The first phase began with the consolidation of iDEN cellsites in the South, with Louisiana being one of the first states to see its iDEN coverage being reduced considerably as a part of the Network Vision initiative. The consolidation has now expanded to Texas with more iDEN cellsites being consolidated in North Central, South and Central Texas this month and expanding eastward.
With the eventual shutdown of iDEN now in sight, Sprint will be making a bigger push to transition its remaining customers, both business and government from iDEN to its revitalized CDMA-based Sprint DirectConnect service, which now has the advantage of being platform agnostic and will be launched as an Android app soon, with more platforms to come. On top of this development, Sprint’s plans for the 800MHz SMR spectrum aside from additional CDMA coverage also involve LTE, as the carrier also plans to roll out LTE service on 800MHz using carrier aggregation next to the slice of 1900MHz spectrum currently utilized for the as yet to be launched network.
This also follows the recent launch of International Direct Connect service over Sprint DirectConnect last month, while Boost Mobile has yet to officially provide any statements on how it will transition its own DirectConnect customers from iDEN to CDMA or even if it will offer such a program to begin with, as it transitions to being a primarily CDMA carrier from its origins as an iDEN MVNO in 2003, partly financed by the former Nextel. Boost Mobile has since transitioned to being Sprint’s value carrier, first by launching the first $50 unlimited plan in 2008 with CDMA service, then relaunching on a nationwide level with iDEN in 2009, following Sprint’s failed attempt to spin off the network and subsequently reinvesting in the network while actively seeking alternatives.
What remains to be seen is how the transition away from iDEN to LTE will impact Sprint, as new developments today signal that the carrier will be receiving additional assistance in the form of a new billion-dollar credit facility in order to complete the Network Vision initiative, a much-needed resource considering Sprint’s recent financial woes as of late. As Sprint needs the Network Vision transition to succeed, the advent of a hard date for the ending of iDEN service should also spell some measure of relief for the company, as the mark of the now infamous “merger of equals” will soon be relegated to the annals of history.