In just two-weeks, the maverick in personal communications that bucked the CDMA/TDMA cellular phone world with its iDEN technology, will shut down 100-million-pounds of network gear and other materials when Sprint decommissions its former NEXTEL wireless network; effective 12:01 am Eastern time on June 30.
Love it or hate it, the familiar “chirp” audio cue of push-to-talk communications which was pioneered by Motorola and licensed to NEXTEL twenty years ago, will not totally leave the social landscape; although what remains is a CDMA version that lacks the lightning-fast speeds of its “walkie-talkie style” predecessor and is never expected to have the market penetration of the original.
For some time, Sprint, who purchased NEXTEL, has pushed to convert the acquired customer base; but the conversion has been slow since they first announced plans in the fourth quarter of 2010 to phase out the iDEN NEXTEL National Network.
St Johns County, the City of St Augustine, and many government entities embraced push-to-talk communications as a secure, direct connection — especially for public safety employees whose messages were highly sensitive, confidential, or out-of-range from the existing emergency radio towers. Another major advantage was that push-to-talk communications were not measured like cellular calls. There was no long distance or roaming charges with push-to-talk and they could talk directly to other users without concern for the length of their conversation.
Sprint told reporters that when decommissioning of the iDEN network is complete, nearly 30,000 iDEN installations will be taken off air.
The Integrated Digital Enhanced Network began in Motorola software labs in early 1991 as the Motorola Integrated Radio System. The last full day of iDEN service for active users will be June 29, 2013.