According to the latest internal Sprint employee documentation, the carrier will begin the second phase of its Network Vision initiative by “retuning” iDEN cellsites in order to repurpose spectrum for CDMA and future LTE service beginning next month, with a wider retuning in April.
The newsletter breaks down what Sprint will do for customers that will be affected by the gradual phase out of iDEN, which includes migration offers to CDMA service, but does not mention any such process for Boost Mobile users that still rely on iDEN for domestic and International DirectConnect service.
Courtesy of BriefMobile
It should be stressed that the phaseout occurring next month will not shutdown iDEN, but it will reconfigure the service to the point where indoor service may be adversely affected, as the cell sites will not be broadcasting at full power and will be gradually moved to CDMA until the planned complete shutdown of the iDEN network in 2013. Customers near and in New Orleans are the most affected by this part of the phase out, with ETF Out currently open to the end of March for those customers in that market that don’t wish to migrate and the rest of the nationwide iDEN customer base can begin exercising ETF Out options from next month to the end of July.
Sprint is actively seeking to push those affected by the phase out to CDMA with Sprint Direct Connect, but is making an exception for those that rely on International Direct Connect and will not actively target those customers for migration until April, when International Direct Connect support via Sprint Direct Connect will be deployed and will speed up the migration/iDEN phase out process.
Sprint has taken great strides to de-emphasize iDEN since the last major upgrades to the network in 2008 which allowed it to offer unlimited flat-rate service and proved unexpectedly popular, so much so that it was able to increase ARPU on the network and draw in more customers than expected.
The offering also led for a new lease on life for iDEN, with new phones and devices being offered while Sprint worked out development of the first iteration of Direct Connect on CDMA, which did not fare well and was shelved while more development work was conducted. With iDEN now being phased out after years of maintenance and QChat finally working as hoped, the days of maintaining the iDEN network are now numbered.
Of course, this will also leave Boost Mobile customers that use iDEN in the lurch, since they will have to buy new phones and it is not known whether Sprint will extend Direct Connect service to Boost Mobile with new compatible CDMA models. Should Sprint decide to expand Sprint DirectConnect service to Boost Mobile, it would give that virtual operator a reason to exist aside from its Shrinkage service plan as it was originally a Nextel MVNO that offered pay per use unlimited push to talk for a daily flat rate.