Sprint’s iDEN push-to-talk network division, Nextel will has shut down today at 12:01AM Eastern Time. Sprint has been warning users about the shutdown over the last year. The original iDEN system was built at Motorola and led to the creation of the Nextel network. The Nextel network started in 1996.
Nextel’s iDEN network ran the spectrum from small regional carriers and frequencies used for Motorola’s two-way radios. The push-to-talk feature allowed users to talk to each other instantly without having to answer a phone that is ringing. This service was especially popular for blue collar workers.
Sprint and Nextel merged in 2005, which led to the creation of a $35 billion company. Sprint continued to invest in iDEN throughout 2007. Nextel saw a major decline in subscribers as 3G and 4G networks started to popularize. The iDEN network sees between 20K bps (bits per second) to 30K bps (bits per second).
Last year, Sprint announced that they were going to shut down Nextel. Sprint plans to reuse the 800MHz spectrum from iDEN to enhance their services. Sprint notified Nextel’s subscribers about the shutdown and attempted to convert them into Sprint customers. Sprint has a push-to-talk service that uses the 3G CDMA network. Sprint still has over 1.3 million Nextel subscribers.
Sprint will also be removing the word “Nextel” from their company name following the merger with SoftBank. The deal with SoftBank is expected to close next month.