Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sprint's iDEN Nextel Shuts Down and Heads for Recycle Bin

Sprint officially pulled the plug on its iDEN Nextel National Network at 12:01 am Eastern time on Sunday morning, June 30.  Nearly 30,000 iDEN installations were taken off air.

Decommissioned equipment from the iDEN sites will be recycled where possible. Sprint said its work includes gutting hundreds of cell sites of obsolete iDEN equipment -- from radios to server racks, antennas to air conditioners -- all will be staged for recycling vendors. Most concrete shelters that house iDEN cell sites will be crushed and turned into composite for roads and bridges. Sites where CDMA and LTE equipment is co-located will be left intact, minus the iDEN gear.

The recycling project is expected to continue into early 2014.

  • The Sprint iDEN network traces its roots to the 1987 foundation of FleetCall, which later became Nextel Communications in 1993. Sprint acquired Nextel in 2005. The Nextel network operates in the 800MHz Specialized Mobile Radio band and uses iDEN technology developed by Motorola.
  • In May 2012, the FCC issued an the order revising a burdensome legacy regulation that constrained the use of 800 MHz Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) licences in LTE deployments.
  • In 2012, Sprint selected Goodman Networks, Overland Contracting, Inc., a construction affiliate of Black & Veatch, Pyramid Network Services LLC and WesTower Communications Inc. to decommission its iDEN network.
  • Nextel developed its nationwide network using Motorola's Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (iDEN) technology, combines a digital wireless phone, two-way radio with "push-to-talk" feature, alphanumeric pager and "always connected" internet microbrowswer capabilities. iDEN leverages TDM, which uses Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) to reference a synchronized time, and then divides the channel into time slots.
  • Sprint acquired Nextel in 2005.