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Sprint continues Nextel iDEN site thinning measures at full-steam ahead!

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Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Update
Monday, March 26, 2012 - 6:41 PM MDT

 

Sprint continues its iDEN thinning plan that it announced a few months ago in full force. It is wrapping up the removal of 83 sites in the Nextel New Orleans market and readily preparing to mobilize nationwide in 20 of 21 remaining Nextel markets to do the same.

Based on newly obtained internal documents, from mid April 2012 through the end of June, Sprint plans on decommissioning over 9,000 of Nextel's approximate 32,000 total site count. Just under one third the total Nextel iDEN network. This will save Sprint a lot of operational dollars in 2012.

 

Might as well save a few bucks...

It has been in the plans for some time now for Sprint to fully decommission the entire Nextel iDEN network in 2013. Sprint will be reusing the 800MHz SMR spectrum that Nextel's iDEN network currently uses and reallocate that to be used on its new Network Vision platform. The new uses will include CDMA voice (1xAdvanced) and 4G LTE for high speed data. These are seen as critical for mid and long term capacity, as well as helping Sprint customers with building penetration.

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It is no secret that Sprint is shedding Nextel subscribers at a high rate. And since the epitaph for the iDEN network has already been written, it makes a lot of financial sense for Sprint to start taking down many iDEN sites now, leaving a minimum amount of coverages left for the remaining Nextel subscribers.

Sprint has said in the past that the Nextel network capacity was significantly over built in most urban areas in order to allow for future subscriber growth. The high growth rates never materialized post Sprint and Nextel merger. Sprint is largely identifying these extra sites for removal. These provide significant operational costs without much advantage. However, there have been anecdotal reports already that thinning in the New Orleans market has created reduced amounts of coverage.


Those waskily wabbits!!!

Sprint originally created a iDEN Thinning site to help customers understand what was going on. However, competing wireless carriers were using this data to try and specifically target affected customers in order to gain subscribers. Sprint has had to take the information offline because of the exploitative nature their competitors engaged in.

 

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Nextel's 22 Markets. Each Nextel market is shown with a number in blue listing number of sites before the 2012 Thinning and the number in green showing the number to remain after thinning. A total of 9,775 sites being taken offline. Click on image to enlarge.

 

The select iDEN site decommissioning (thinning) has already started occurring in the New Orleans market and should be wrapped up completely by the middle of April. The rest of Nextel's market will begin in earnest in April. See market break downs below.

 

April 2012

  • New Orleans (completes)
  • Atlanta
  • Baltimore/DC
  • Minnesota
  • Denver
  • Pacific Northwest

May 2012

  • Northern California
  • Southern California
  • New England
  • Philadelphia
  • St. Louis
  • Syracuse
  • Detroit
  • Phoenix

June 2012

  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Chicago
  • Ohio
  • Carolinas
  • Florida

Will not be thinned in advance

  • Hawaii
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Nice to hear progress on this topic. I think that the iDEN thinning of towers has been often overlooked as a key piece of Network Vision of reducing operational costs to help Sprint's balance sheet.

 

Hopefully some time in early 2013, we can hear the good news that the entire iDEN network has been decommissioned which will pave the path for LTE at 800 Mhz.

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I was just wondering if anyone knew if they were already upgrading those towers for network vision?

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I was just wondering if anyone knew if they were already upgrading those towers for network vision?

 

Nextel sites will not be upgraded to Network Vision. Only Sprint CDMA sites are being upgraded.

 

Robert

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That kinda sucks. I was hoping they would use some Nextel sites that might be in better locations than Sprint towers or use them to expand native coverage.

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That kinda sucks. I was hoping they would use some Nextel sites that might be in better locations than Sprint towers or use them to expand native coverage.

 

I was hoping too. But I received final confirmation in February that will not happen. :(

 

Robert

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I was hoping too. But I received final confirmation in February that will not happen. :(Robert

 

Is this due to in part by the FCC not giving Sprint the green light/go ahead yet to rebanding and usage of CDMA on the 800Mhz band instead of the Nextel iDen technology currently being used?

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No nextel sites removed in Baton Rouge yet. I'm assuming they'll start any day now.

 

I don't know if they will actually remove equipment right away, or it just starts with powering everything down. If I get more details, I will share. If it involves not actually removing equipment, thinning may have already occurred there. Do you know any Nextel subs that you may be able to verify with?

 

Robert

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We still use the Nextel service quite a bit here. Be interesting to see how the coverage fares after those sites are decommissioned.

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We still use the Nextel service quite a bit here. Be interesting to see how the coverage fares after those sites are decommissioned.

 

Has you ever considered trying out the Sprint Direct Connect service through CDMA as an option? Might be a good time to start looking into it.

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"..... it makes a lot of financial sense for Sprint to start taking down many iDEN sites now, leaving a minimum amount of coverages left for the remaining Nextel subscribers"

 

This is exactly the rationale that leads me to recommend caution to those willing and happy to sign a 20 month contract for bargain basement prices on a wimax phone. Sure coverage will be supported until 2015, but how far into 2015? And at decommission will the wimax network consist of EVERY tower that's in service now?

 

I'd be very surprised if it does.

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This is exactly the rationale that leads me to recommend caution to those willing and happy to sign a 20 month contract for bargain basement prices on a wimax phone. Sure coverage will be supported until 2015, but how far into 2015? And at decommission will the wimax network consist of EVERY tower that's in service now? I'd be very surprised if it does.

 

It also depends on the use of WiMax resellers like netzero.

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Has you ever considered trying out the Sprint Direct Connect service through CDMA as an option? Might be a good time to start looking into it.

 

Yeah, there are a few employees using it already. I think they are slowing moving everyone over to a SDC device

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Hi I am new to this site and am very impressed. Does anyone have a list that they compiled before Sprint took the site information on the IDEN sites that are being decommissioned? I hope that someone had the time to try and decipher which ones they are. If so, I would really like that list.

 

Thanks

 

Floridasand

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Hi I am new to this site and am very impressed. Does anyone have a list that they compiled before Sprint took the site information on the IDEN sites that are being decommissioned?

 

I can tell you that I did not. Sorry.

 

Robert

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