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Sprint To Shut Down Nextel iDEN Network Next Year 53

Stephenmg writes "Sprint will be shutting down their iDEN network from its merger with Nextel and will migrate users to Push to Talk over CDMA. It will then use the 800mhz frequency to build out its LTE network. From the article: 'Sprint has been decommissioning iDEN base stations as part of its methodical transition to Network Vision, a flexible infrastructure intended to accommodate both the carrier's 3G CDMA technology and its emerging 4G LTE system. About one-third of the iDEN radios are scheduled to be removed by the end of this year. The iDEN system only offers downstream speeds below 100K bps (bits per second), a trickle compared with the multiple megabits per second available from LTE and from WiMax, Sprint's current 4G technology, which is provided by Clearwire. One major benefit to Sprint from shutting down iDEN will be the ability to reuse its 800MHz frequencies for the Sprint LTE network, which a U.S. Federal Communications Commission ruling last week made possible. The LTE service is scheduled to launch in the middle of this year on another spectrum band and later expand to 800MHz.'"
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Sprint To Shut Down Nextel iDEN Network Next Year

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  • by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @10:35PM (#40151499)

    So Friday? two weeks? Or maybe the "middle of the second half?"

    You would think, if it was coming out soon, you would hear more about it..

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @10:44PM (#40151549)

      I heard about it. I used to be a Boost Mobile customer with a GSM phone that ran off of Nextel towers. I got a message they were going to be working on the towers and that I needed to get a CDMA phone. Sure enough a few weeks later my service dropped in the dirt. I didn't mind buying a new phone the old one was 3 years old and my wife wanted a smart phone. I purchased a new phone and walla! still no service. I drove all over the neighborhood and still not one damn bar. It worked great everywhere around town but not in my house where my wife makes 90 percent of her calls. She's now the proud owner of a new AT&T Samsung android type smartphone. They upgraded me right off their network. It was nice while it lasted.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @10:53PM (#40151593)

        In the article it says as early as June 2013, but I guess nobody read it.. :)

      • by satsuke ( 263225 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @11:39PM (#40151777)

        Small point of clarification here -- Nextel never used GSM, they have only ever used iden. iden had sim cards like GSM and the backend / MSC "felt" like GSM, but the air interface -- the shoveling of bits across the air between tower and handset, have always been IDEN.

        It's also worth pointing out that nextel used what is called the SMR band .. ~800mhz. This frequency typically propagates further than the 1900mhz the rest of Sprint is operating on, so it is entirely possible for the new phone tower in the same location wouldn't reach you, while an iden at 800mhz would.

      • Walla (Score:4, Informative)

        by dtmos ( 447842 ) * on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @07:24AM (#40153653)

        The word you're looking for is "voilà." (From the French, "see there.")

        • by Anonymous Coward
          I always imagine the "Walla!" people saying it like "Holla!"
        • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

          Nice. That's what I love about slashdot. My vocabulary is constantly being improved.

          • by dtmos ( 447842 ) *

            That's what I love about slashdot. My vocabulary is constantly being improved.

            Yes -- if not by the comment, then by the characterizations of the commenter that come to mind.

    • by Stephenmg ( 265369 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @11:58PM (#40151869)
      I have already seen a few iDEN towers go offline. They are sending a letter to iDEN customers June 1, 2012 telling them to move to CDMA phones (I have one and it works great, much better PTT). The iDEN network will cease to exist as early as June 30, 2013. As June 30, 2013 approaches, customers will get even more notifications. []
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Pain and woe to anyone who has relied on the nextel messaging system for any enterprise automated dispatch system and has not moved to either another provider or a better way to dispatch, such as an instant messaging server, by June of next year. The chance that Sprint will make their enterprise MMS/SMS to email gateway "not" fubar messages beyond any usefullness is pretty slim.

    • by afidel ( 530433 )
      If you send it to the message gets sent as an MMS as isn't fubar AFAICT, the email must also have only one recipient or it gets flagged as spam by the gateway (T-Mobile was the same). We send all the pages from our enterprise monitoring tools out this way and I have no issues receiving the messages.
  • by ( 245670 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @10:53PM (#40151591)

    This takes me back. My first data-capable phone was a Motorola on Nextel's network. It was also my first "nationwide" phone where all of my services were included in my plan no matter where I was. If I got a signal, I was on my home network. No more roaming! And I had data service at a blazing 9600 bits per second thru the proprietary serial cable. I'm trying to remember if I needed my own dialup ISP to get the Jornada 690 online or if that was included in Nextel's data service. Can't remember. It was 12 years ago.

    I'm a little surprised there are still iDEN phones in the wild.

    • Telmex (mexican phone company) is STILL selling iDEN phones.. Android 2.1 based... apparently 2.2 dropped support for PTT, so they're stuck with 2.1 forever.

  • by subreality ( 157447 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @10:57PM (#40151609)

    I cannot tell you how many times I've had conversations that went like: "Whatever you do, do ... push the red button!" / "Confirming, you want me to push the red button?" / "I c... hear what ... SQUAWK red button!" / "OK, so are you saying not to push it?" / (dead air) / "Hello?"

    I don't know if it was a technology problem with iDEN (how hard could it be to get a simple TDMA system right?) or if Nextel just woefully underdeployed cells, but a decade ago they definitely set the standard for how much a network could suck and still somehow attract business customers.

    I'm pretty sure the other providers managed to add in comfort noise which you could hear cut out whenever a packet got dropped. Maybe that's where iDEN screwed up?

    • Until late last year, I never had much trouble with PTT over iDEN depending on what building I was in, always worked fine outside. No carrier guarantees coverage inside a building plus these are old buildings that are built like bunkers and no network works. We have iDEN repeaters to solve this issue that we'll be switching to CDMA. Also, not all phones are equal. One thing I will miss about having an iDEN phone, had a tornado warning about a year ago (no touchdown/damage) shortly after Joplin, MO was hit
      • Re:Good riddance (Score:4, Interesting)

        by LoadWB ( 592248 ) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @01:16AM (#40152239) Journal

        Working for a home-builder using Motorola iDEN phones was a blast. Like OP, we played with the data in the field quite a bit, and ISTR it did require a DUN connection to work but it was rock-solid. Sprint screwed up our billing so badly after taking over Nextel that we wound up with two accounts -- one Nextel and one Sprint -- no longer with shared minutes or services even though we were promised that everything would remain under one account. The situation was so frustrating that the operations manager asked me to work on the issue. I wound up having several meetings with various carrier business sales teams, including the regional Sprint/Nextel reps who promised that within "a few more months" everything Sprint and Nextel would be fully combined, including plans and billing. I ended the Sprint/Nextel meeting within a few minutes and kicked them out of the office (diplomatically, of course) as I had told them we wanted to move to Exchange-compatible phones (ActiveSync) NOT BlackBerry (my exact words before the meeting were "If you come with just Blackberries, don't come at all") and they showed up with nothing but BlackBerry and another promise that we'd be able to get non-BlackBerry phones within "a few more months." (None of their promises ever amounted to anything for us.)

        We couldn't wait "a few more months" so we moved people who didn't need PTT over to AT&T and just kept the Nextel service for builders in the field and their in-office managers who used the hell out of PTT. Within the year following that move we brought the builders over as well as our new building management system required Palms, while Sprint/Nextel continued to make promises of "a few more months."

        The short, Sprint bungled the whole thing with Nextel so badly that we halved our account with them within four months (about 180 phones) then were completely moved off within 18 months. I have a similar story about Alltel and Verizon, but I'll save that for a "bad Verizon" story.

  • I have nothing else to say.

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:43AM (#40152763)

    I thought one of the problems of CDMA and GSM networks was that call setup time was prohibitively long to get effective 2-way PTT communications going, something which doesn't affect a continuous voice conversation on a mobile phone. Wasn't that the appeal of the TETRA standard? 0.5s call setup time, the benefits of digital communications on a 2-way and packet data support (albeit slow)?

    Our city has an area wide TETRA network managed by Motorola, not some ISP. This announcements sounds very like butchering one customer to benefit another.

    Can someone tell me why a customer of a PTT system would want an internet browser instead of a 2-way radio? I'm confused. Anyone here have any experience with PTT over CDMA?

    • Re:PTT over CDMA? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Tacvek ( 948259 ) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @08:36AM (#40153997) Journal

      I suspect they will be doing PTT over something like SIP and RTP. This is known as Push to Talk over Cellular (iDEN is not classified as a cellular network for regulatory purposes in the US) and is abbreviated PoC. It was standardized by the Open Mobile Alliance for both 3GPP (GSM-family) and 3GPP2 (CDMA-family) networks.

    • Its some VoIP thing, it requires data. Maybe qChat or something new. The new CDMA PTT works fine, call setup is not noticeable and coverage is better then iDEN.
    • I am using a Motorola XT603 Android phone with Sprint and as I understand it the Nextel Push To Talk is going out like data. They did have "hybird" phones before that had a iden radio for push to talk and used the standard Sprint network for voice. The push to talk service is NOT as solid as on a standard iden phone, but it is decent.

      This will be a tough switch because most business users are using the nextel PTT just like a two way radio that you don't need to buy repeater space for. The old motorola phone

  • I did a 6 month student internship with Motorola a few years back and saw how iDEN works under the hood and the protocol is a piece of crap. Sprint should have shut it down in favor of CDMA years ago.

  • I had many iDEN phones ten years ago in Argentina, I was always amazed by how fast the connection is made, as soon as you press the PTT button the beep comes in and you can already speak, it takes less than hald a second. It was also very fast for international connections. Part of the trick is that your voice is already streaming even before the other peer has been found (that's why you could also get an error tone over your own voice when already 3 seconds into your speecBEEEEEEEEP!).

    In the other hand,
  • Nextel iDEN SIM cards use a different format for the storage of contacts, which is not compatible with the format described in GSM 11.11 (for regular 2G SIM cards), nor with the 3GPP spec for 3G USIM cards. If you read EF ADN (the abbreviated dialing numbers file), you will see just one entry, called "See iDEN phbk", while the actual phonebook is elsewhere and has a completely different structure.

    If you want to migrate your iDEN phonebook to another SIM card, export them to a CSV file, or upload them to Goo

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