Sprint to shut down its iDEN network by June 2013

By: Smartcomm

On March 9, 2012, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("NPRM") to adopt new rules in the 800 MHz band. At the time only 25 kHz channels, which are suitable for voice and SMS messaging, were allowed in the band. These channels were not intended for 3G and future 4G technologies, which require more bandwidth.

Since Sprint Nextel and other commercial SMR licensees within the 800 MHz band needed to be able to use advanced digital technologies in order to compete in the future of broadband communications, the company requested that the Commission make a rule change allowing the larger channels.

On May 24, 2012, the Commission voted unanimously to remove technical restrictions on the 800 MHz band, allowing the deployment of 3G and 4G LTE service on the spectrum, which should clear the way for Sprint Nextel to deploy CDMA and eventually LTE.

This week, Sprint Nextel announced that it plans to shut down service on its 2G iDEN network as early as June 2013. This is part of the company's Network Vision plan. Sprint has already begun the process of decommissioning iDEN cell sites, as we've previously posted.

Shutting down Sprint's iDEN network, which the company announced in late 2010, is a piece of its Network Vision upgrade that will enable the deployment of new, multi-mode base stations. As part of the upgrade, Sprint plans to deploy LTE first in its 1900 MHz PCS spectrum and then later on the 800 MHz spectrum currently reserved for iDEN service.

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