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Where would Nextel be today if they didn't merge with Sprint?


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Migrated from Original Forum. Originally Posted 27 January 2012

 

I haven't had a Nextel phone in years, but I remember the internet being about as advanced as my very first Sprint phone 6 years earlier and having virtually no features besides the PTT. Does anyone think they would have added some sort of 3G data to keep up with the rest of the carriers or have Android PTT phones? Or would they have let their iDEN network and phone lineup rot as sprint has done?

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Migrated from Original Forum. Originally Posted 27 January 2012

 

My guess is that VZW would have been enticed by Nextel's then strong class of business users plus PTT technology and acquired Nextel not long after Sprint did, say by 2006. In fact, though I can now find little support for this, so it may be just a figment of my memory, I recall hearing rumors circa 2004 that VZW was readying a bid for either Nextel or Sprint. Hence, Sprint had to beat VZW to the punch because 1) Sprint wanted to acquire Nextel and 2) Sprint feared for its own independence.

 

Regardless, I strongly believe that Nextel would not have remained a standalone carrier for very long. No WiDEN, FLASH-OFDM, nor 6:1 vocoder was going to be enough to solve Nextel's coming 800 MHz reconfiguration, capacity, coverage, and obsolescence issues. Those problems were already baked into Nextel when Sprint arrived. Unfortunately, most subscribers were unaware of the impending storm. And, in classic post hoc fallacy fashion, they blamed Sprint for everything bad that happened to Nextel and iDEN after the merger. For that reason, I have long thought of many (but not all) Nextel subs as a bunch of ingrates who did not understand that Sprint tried to throw them a lifeline to get off their sinking ship. That so many Nextel subs, largely out of spite, have since churned from Sprint without realizing that it was really their former Nextel leadership and their beloved iDEN technology that put Nextel on the path to ruin, well, that is just sad.

 

AJ

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Migrated from Original Forum. Originally Posted 27 January 2012

 

 

I was talking about this very subject at dinner with friends this past week (although we also discussed Cingular as well) and the consensus for a table full of phone nerds was they they probably never would have added a significant data stream themselves. Possibly piggybacking on whoever would be the largest at that time (probably still VZ) and focusing more on signal strength and durability of devices over network features. iDEN had some neat tech that was not really used/known about by a lot of people the main being setting up your own "private cell" in an area of no service. My brother and a bunch of co-workers went on when of those technology cruises (3 days at sea listening to speakers and then getting fall down drunk repeat) and while out there they could all use their cell phones since one of them acted as a base station and the others meshed to the rest through it. Now if the base station phone was used to make a call on the private net it broke off the rest of the devices except the one it was connecting to. It was pretty neat for 2002 era phones. I would suspect that nextel could have used that tech to help worm their way into the nation wide first responder network and live off that cash cow pretty much forever.

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Migrated from Original Forum. Originally Posted 28 January 2012

 

 

@AJ...Great points. Sprint was definitely better for Nextel than Nextel was for Sprint. I always wondered why Sprint didn't come out with iDEN/EVDO combinations within 6 to 9 months after the merger. My company had iDEN BlackBerrys back then. Everyone wanted a iDEN BlackBerry that could also run on 3G data. So eventually they migrated to non PTT BlackBerry to get 3G. Then those people split into iPhone or Android people.

Oh...what could have been?

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Migrated from Original Forum. Originally Posted 28 January 2012

 

I didn't realize that they ever had PTT Blackberrys for Nextel. I thought that since Motorola owned everything about iDEN, the only handsets offered were made by Motorola. At the company I worked for, all the higher-ups had a Nextel for PTT and a Blackberry running on AT&T, I believe. If there would have been an iDEN Blackberry with 3G for e-mail, it would have been a huge cost savings. Almost makes me wonder why Sprint never pushed their dual network devices like the ic902. Is CDMA superior to iDEN? I guess I don't understand why they wouldn't have transitioned into using iDEN for voice and PTT on the 800 mhz spectrum from Nextel and data and backup voice on the 1900 mhz spectrum.

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Migrated from Original Forum. Originally Posted 28 January 2012

 

Robert, hindsight is always 20/20, of course. But if Sprint had fully known earlier to what extent 800 MHz reconfiguration was going to be such an albatross and how ungrateful Nextel subs would unfairly blame Sprint for all ills and defect en masse, then Sprint should have just shut down iDEN within two years of the closing of the merger. Sprint could have given the iDEN subs an ultimatum (since most of them ended up leaving anyway) and used the iDEN retirement by 2008 as a means to expedite the 800 MHz rebanding process, followed quickly by a CDMA band class 10 roll out. Had Sprint done all of above, we could have had CDMA1X 800 overlay on the national network by 2010.

 

AJ

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Migrated from Original Forum. Originally Posted 28 January 2012

 

Sprint did try the hybrid merger of CDMA & iDEN about 4 years ago. A Sprint rep on the business side was at my job transitioning one of our units from straight iDEN phones to one of the hybrid phones. I remember reading the brochure on it and discussing it with the few people I knew who had personal accounts with Sprint and they seem pretty jazzed about it and speculated if Sprint was going to bring that functionality to all its phones and eliminate the barrier b/twn Sprint & Nextel. As usual, Sprint failed to market it correctly and it soon lost its buzz.

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Migrated from Original Forum. Originally Posted 28 January 2012

 

@legion125 The phones were expensive too. I remember looking at the hybrid phones and they were more expensive than phones with more features that were strictly Sprint phones. As you said, if they had invested in the marketing of a line of phones that removed the barrier between Sprint and Nextel, they could have had a winner. They needed affordable handsets or at least handsets that were among the most advanced. I would have had no problem paying for a hybrid phone, but when I get less features than a cheaper phone and the only gain is PTT which you end up paying a higher monthly bill for, sorry PTT...

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Migrated from Original Forum. Originally Posted 28 January 2012

 

 

pyroscott, an interesting companion to this thread would be the obvious "Where would Sprint be today if it had not merged with Nextel?"

 

Many seem to feel that the Nextel merger and its negative fallout caused Sprint to miss a prime link up opportunity with Alltel (after Alltel had solidified itself as the rural roaming carrier with its 2005 acquisition of WWC). Had Sprint been able to hook up with Alltel, then both VZW and AT&T (because of the WWC GSM roamer network) would have had to come to Sprint for roaming agreements, giving Sprint an advantageous negotiating position that is has rarely had. And, anecdotally, some say that Alltel CEO Scott Ford was practically begging then Sprint CEO Gary Forsee to make an offer before private equity first, then VZW second came in and took Alltel off the market.

 

Care to start another thread? Or keep the discussion here?

 

AJ

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Migrated from Original Forum. Originally Posted 28 January 2012

 

That is very interesting. It could be a more even race between the top three. I think that deserves it's own thread. I'd love to learn more about that

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Migrated from Original Forum. Originally Posted 29 January 2012

 

I joined Sprint when Forsee was in charge ( I guess I like taking risks). He was either a strategic visionary who couldn't execute policy or an idiot (take your pick). I've heard about that Alltel rumor and although Sprint had spent a lot for Nextel, I would have leveraged the company even more for Alltel. Strategically, that would have set up for better success than it has today. I also think that Sprints debt would be more manageable since they would be closer to climbing out of the hole in comparison to how its leveraging debt today. But alas, Forsee wasn't the man of the hour.

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Migrated from Original Forum. Originally Posted 28 January 2012

 

I didn't realize that they ever had PTT Blackberrys for Nextel. I thought that since Motorola owned everything about iDEN, the only handsets offered were made by Motorola. At the company I worked for, all the higher-ups had a Nextel for PTT and a Blackberry running on AT&T, I believe. If there would have been an iDEN Blackberry with 3G for e-mail, it would have been a huge cost savings. Almost makes me wonder why Sprint never pushed their dual network devices like the ic902. Is CDMA superior to iDEN? I guess I don't understand why they wouldn't have transitioned into using iDEN for voice and PTT on the 800 mhz spectrum from Nextel and data and backup voice on the 1900 mhz spectrum.

 

I have a Nextel Blackberry phone that was given to me when my friends brother migrated from Nextel to Sprint. It was a sturdy phone compared to his Palm Treo 700p at the time. (Right now he's saving up for an iPhone). I think Motorola licensed out iDEN to Blackberry because RIM wanted a goldmine market that they could make a quick penny on in the business industry. But I do agree that the lack of advanced data made it harder for Nextel when it came to business users using other companies for internet on their phones.

 

I do like the PTT concept and hope that Sprint Direct Connect will take off unlike the hybrid phones of the late 2000's.

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I had a i7100 and a 8350. Maybe the wrong model numbers. They were both fine phones on the Nextel network but the lack of data network killed it and sprint never could get the hybrid network to take off. Nextel by themselves could have developed their 3g network instead of pawn in sprint's game.

 

Btw who remembers WiDen?

 

Sent from my Nexus S 4G

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Migrated from Original Forum. Originally Posted 28 January 2012

 

 

And, anecdotally, some say that Alltel CEO Scott Ford was practically begging then Sprint CEO Gary Forsee to make an offer before private equity first, then VZW second came in and took Alltel off the market.

 

 

 

AJ

 

http://www.cellular-news.com/story/31955.php

 

Scott Ford says that they tried to link up with Sprint three times and they were rebuffed on every occassion. That, not the actual Nextel acquisition was Forsee's greatest failure as CEO. Imagine a company that would have had Sprint's urban and suburban network, Alltel's exurban and rural network as well as the nationwide or near nationwide SMR spectrum from Nextel. I think that the competetive landscape would look totally different today and we would have three strong, viable national players.

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http://www.cellular-news.com/story/31955.php

 

Scott Ford says that they tried to link up with Sprint three times and they were rebuffed on every occassion. That, not the actual Nextel acquisition was Forsee's greatest failure as CEO. Imagine a company that would have had Sprint's urban and suburban network, Alltel's exurban and rural network as well as the nationwide or near nationwide SMR spectrum from Nextel. I think that the competetive landscape would look totally different today and we would have three strong, viable national players.

That would have been huge. Forsee made a huge mistake.

 

Sent from my SPH-D710 using Tapatalk

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  • 2 months later...

Late to the party...but my thoughts as a pre-merger Sprint employee.

 

Nextel was a dying company...looked great on the outside, had a great niche product, great user base around said niche product, great marketing.

 

What they didn't have was a future. They had no strategic leadership looking 5 years out. That's why for years, they released 2-3 new phones, all with slightly upgraded features. You went from the i530, which had no external CID screen, to the i560, which did. Groundbreaking was unheard of.

 

If I remember correctly, during the BRS/EBS spectrum auctions, Nextel picked up a huge piece, with the promise to use it for a 4th generation network within 4 years or so. The problem was, there was no future for iDEN when it came to a 4G network. Hell, iDEN was a 2.5G network, barely.

 

Sprint saw the spectrum, and saw the future writing on the wall in terms of spectrum holdings, and jumped at it...and the rest is history...or in my case, now.

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I still use a Blackberry 8350i on Nextel as my work phone (their choice, not mine). The data is slow but at least it works. it does do internet and the email works pretty good. In a few months our contract will be up and hopefully we can switch to something better.

Edited by Machque
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Well I guess time will tell. The only good thing out of this merger so far will be the access to the 800 MHz. If you think about it even the nationwide 1900 MHz 'G' block that was granted to Sprint was as a result of the 800 MHz rebanding because of Nextel PTT.

 

Right now Sprint LTE is deployed entirely on "Nextel" spectrum because of the 1900 MHz 'G' block and the next planned 5x5 carrier is on the 800 MHz spectrum. I believe even Sprint's 2.5 GHz spectrum was originally owned by Nextel as well before the merger. So I guess you can say has played a key role in Sprint's 4G strategy and without the vast amount of Nextel spectrum it would be very hard for Sprint to deploy its own LTE network.

 

On the other hand, I think a lot of people will argue that had they not merge with Nextel, that they would have had funds to participate in the AWS and 700 MHz spectrum auctions in 2006 and 2008.

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I think that the combination of Alltel+Sprint would have been a great combination. They might have been good enough to entice Nextel to add voice+3G roaming to their IDEN phones. They would let them go through the spectrum reconfiguration and maybe acquire them then. Alltel, pre private equity had very little debt. Sprint+Alltel would have been an player in subsequent spectrum auctions.

Edited by bigsnake49
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Well I guess time will tell. The only good thing out of this merger so far will be the access to the 800 MHz. If you think about it even the nationwide 1900 MHz 'G' block that was granted to Sprint was as a result of the 800 MHz rebanding because of Nextel PTT.

 

Right now Sprint LTE is deployed entirely on "Nextel" spectrum because of the 1900 MHz 'G' block and the next planned 5x5 carrier is on the 800 MHz spectrum. I believe even Sprint's 2.5 GHz spectrum was originally owned by Nextel as well before the merger. So I guess you can say has played a key role in Sprint's 4G strategy and without the vast amount of Nextel spectrum it would be very hard for Sprint to deploy its own LTE network.

 

On the other hand, I think a lot of people will argue that had they not merge with Nextel, that they would have had funds to participate in the AWS and 700 MHz spectrum auctions in 2006 and 2008.

 

Just a minor correction. Sprint owned half of BRS spectrum and Nextel (through MCI) owned the other half. Clearwire mainly leased EBS spectrum.

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Well I guess time will tell. The only good thing out of this merger so far will be the access to the 800 MHz. If you think about it even the nationwide 1900 MHz 'G' block that was granted to Sprint was as a result of the 800 MHz rebanding because of Nextel PTT.

 

Right now Sprint LTE is deployed entirely on "Nextel" spectrum because of the 1900 MHz 'G' block and the next planned 5x5 carrier is on the 800 MHz spectrum. I believe even Sprint's 2.5 GHz spectrum was originally owned by Nextel as well before the merger. So I guess you can say has played a key role in Sprint's 4G strategy and without the vast amount of Nextel spectrum it would be very hard for Sprint to deploy its own LTE network.

 

On the other hand, I think a lot of people will argue that had they not merge with Nextel, that they would have had funds to participate in the AWS and 700 MHz spectrum auctions in 2006 and 2008.

 

It seems like it is getting harder and more expensive to get a nationwide swath of spectrum. I'm not sure what the financials of the deal are, but you could look at it as Sprint received the spectrum, customers and direct connect from Nextel. I wonder how that compares to what they would have paid for just spectrum.

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A big problem with the Nextel/Sprint merger is that they had to buy their affiliates+Nextel Partners, thereby draining them of cash and credit. Would they have had to buy their affiliates if they merged with Alltel? I like to argue that they would not because they could be enticed to host Alltel's 850MHz spectrum and customers. In the worst case they would have saved the $6.5B for Nextel Partners.

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