Sprint’s 2005 merger with Nextel will likely go down as the textbook example for how telecom mergers can go heinously wrong. The major reason? Sprint’s inability to effectively integrate Nextel’s iDEN network and services into its own CDMA-based network and services. The iDEN network cost Sprint dearly, as the carrier was forced to write off a $29 billion loss from the Nextel acquisition in late 2007 and then saw an astonishing 4 million wireless subscribers flee in 2008. To make matters worse, the iDEN network was clogging up spectrum on the valuable 800MHz band that Sprint could have used to deploy an LTE network. So it must come as no small relief to Sprint that it will finally be able to shut down the iDEN albatross next year; the company on Tuesday said that it would cut off service on the network as early as June 30, 2013. Hit the jump for the full release.
Sprint Continues Network Vision Progress; Selects Vendors to Decommission the iDEN Network
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), June 12, 2012 – Sprint (NYSE:S) announced today that it has signed agreements with Goodman Networks, Overland Contracting, Inc., a construction affiliate of Black & Veatch, Pyramid Network Services LLC and WesTower Communications Inc. to decommission the company’s iDEN network. Under the terms of the deals, these suppliers will negotiate lease termination agreements, restore cell site compounds and remove Sprint network equipment for re-use or recycling.
Sprint recently announced that it plans to cease service on the iDEN Nextel National Network as early as June 30, 2013, which marks another major milestone on the path to completing the Sprint Network Vision plan. Network Vision is a multiyear initiative to provide an enhanced network experience by improving voice quality and providing faster data speeds, while creating network flexibility and reducing operating costs.
Network Vision also improves environmental sustainability by reducing electricity use and driving down greenhouse gas emissions. Today’s announcement underscores Sprint’s commitment to decommissioning the iDEN network swiftly and efficiently. To begin preparing for the more robust network consolidation, the company expects to shut down a total of 9,600 iDEN sites before the end of the third quarter 2012.
“After a thorough RFP process, Sprint has selected the best suppliers to cost-effectively hit our milestones for site shutdown, enabling the company to exit from those locations at a minimum cost,” said John Harrison, vice president-Network Supplier Performance Management. “In addition, we have taken extra care in selecting these suppliers to ensure our industry-leading green standards are maintained.”
Sprint released an Electronic Stewardship Policy in May 2011, outlining its goal to eliminate all internal e-waste from its own operations and establishing social and environmental criteria that its e-waste suppliers must meet.
Sprint continues to facilitate migration of iDEN customers to Sprint Direct Connect service. Sprint Direct Connect, the industry’s newest push-to-talk (PTT) gold standard, was announced in October 2011. The service provides broadband data capabilities, familiar push-to-talk features, and rugged and reliable handset options. Sprint Direct Connect coverage is expected to broaden throughout 2012.
During the past eight months, Sprint has announced four rugged Sprint Direct Connect handsets: Kyocera DuraMax, Kyocera DuraCore, Kyocera DuraPlus and Motorola ADMIRAL™, which cater to push-to-talk users. Last month, Sprint made International Direct Connect available on its Sprint Direct Connect devices, expanding the reach of push-to-talk capabilities to and from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Chile.