Boost Mobile is now actively sending out notices to customers still using its iDEN network, which will begin the process of contraction as the next phase of the Network Vision project begins next month in reducing the total number of iDEN cellsites in preparation for the total shutdown of the network next year to make way for expanded CDMA coverage on the band currently used for iDEN service and coverage.
The reduction in cellsites is not meant to affect total outdoor coverage, but indoor coverage will be affected, as less total cellsites will be available and those left after the Network Vision realignment and retuning will be transmitting at less total power than before to not interfere with WiMax, LTE and CDMA service on the same site. Sprint’s own internal realignment schedule is set to begin in New Orleans Louisiana next month, which the first notice is targeted towards, while the realignment will continue across the South in the Spring, then expand to the East during the Summer.
The goal is to further consolidate any redundancies in the iDEN network that were left over from the last major network overhaul, as Sprint transitions from iDEN to CDMA 1xAdvanced and LTE for its future network, while maintaining its support for WiMax until the LTE network is operating in enough markets and enough customers have LTE hardware to be able to end WiMax service, but that isn’t expected until the 2014-2015 timeframe and also hinges on Clearwire remaining operational unless Sprint purchases the remainder of the company before then, which is expected by many industry analysts.
Another issue that still has to be addressed for remaining Boost iDEN customers and that Sprint is deliberately keeping quiet on is the availability of Sprint Direct Connect service on Boost Mobile, specifically whether Sprint intends to roll it out to replace iDEN support for those that signed up on Boost for push-to-talk service. Many current Boost customers in areas with heavy Hispanic/Lastino populations make up the majority of Boost’s customer base thanks to its cheap International DirectConnect service and international calling add-ons being a better deal than international phone cards.
With Sprint itself transitioning to Sprint DirectConnect going forward for push to talk and giving no immediate word on the status of International Direct Connect service other than a preliminary April launch date, it would be in Sprint’s best interest to expand Sprint DirectConnect to Boost as soon as possible in order to avoid losing those valuable customers to other alternatives.
Boost Mobile is offering a dedicated hotline for questions related to the coverage changes and can be seen in the image above. Boost Mobile is currently focusing on its Shrinkage rate reduction plan for its service plans as well as a heavy Android-focused campaign, almost completely de-emphasizing iDEN service and slowly reducing the number of iDEN handsets in its current lineup in favor of more CDMA models.