Sprint representatives Bob Azzi and Scott Sloat have confirmed the carrierâ€™s plans to reduce its cellsite footprint from its current 66,000 sites to a new reduced total of 46,000 sites with multi-mode hardware that can be more easily deployed with a combination of iDEN/CDMA 1x/EVDO/WiMax software in order to ease future network upgrades and better utilize its 800MHz SMR/1900MHz CDMA/2.5GHz WiMax spectrum holdings.
Another key network change concerns a second attempt to transition iDEN customers to its CDMA network via another unnamed CDMA-based push to talk solution being developed once again with Qualcomm, but it would not confirm whether it would revive QChat. This follows Sprintâ€™s acquisition of Qualcommâ€™s QChat technology when it purchased Nextel in 2005, with its deployment beginning in 2008 (1, 2) before being abandoned in 2009 in favor of further iDEN investment. During the iDEN to CDMA transition, Sprint also expects to move some of its 800MHz spectrum to CDMA, but will not decommission the iDEN network or discontinue iDEN services.
With the first requests for proposal being filed in the past few months, Sprint will not begin work until it has received proposals from its equipment providers on the hardware for the transition. The iDEN to CDMA transition and network overhaul is expected to take several years to complete.