Sprint Announces Shift To LTE, PTT CDMA, And The Death Of iDen.

  • October 7, 2011 10:12 am

Sprint revealed today at a special press conference plans to drastically alter their strategy and incorporate some big technological changes over the next several years. Everything from iDen to CDMA to LTE was covered. The biggest news: iDen is finally being killed and WiMAX is getting replaced.

Hop past the break for the full rundown…


After months of rumors, Sprint today confirmed that they are moving to LTE. The move will (obviously) take a bit of time considering they’re already running three completely different networks: iDen, CDMA, and WiMAX. Nonetheless, to know change is coming is a very good thing. WiMAX is great on paper and has provided worthwhile in the small market already deployed, but it’s simply taking too long and costing Sprint too much money. Not to mention, they’re the only carrier supporting the standard here in the U.S. LTE on the other hand has much more potential and has already begun a rapid expansion thanks to Verizon, and more recently AT&T. Not to mention, LTE is simply faster with more potential for increases in speed down the line too, as the LTE spec is tweaked. LTE isn’t the only thing Sprint had to talk about today.

Building off of the LTE excitement, Sprint showed several slides showing current base station configurations with separate CDMA and 4G units. The goal in the near future is to merge the two technologies into a single, smaller unit and use multi-mode antennas. Doing this will help save money in the long run.

Look for Sprint’s LTE network to start rolling out in mid-2012 along with LTE devices (1900MHz and 800MHz bands) for consumers. As for their new LTE efforts, as we already mentioned Sprint is planning a very aggressive rollout with public availability sometime next summer and finishing the complete LTE rollout by 2013. More specifically, Sprint claims that by the end of 2012 they’ll have LTE made available to 123 million customers, reaching 250 million people (260 markets) by the end of the following year. On that note, Sprint claimed that over 22,000 cell sites — around half of their total amount — have been included in this first round of upgrades with the second half to follow in the next 1-2 months.

Joining the network rollout will be “at least 15″ new devices (smartphones and tablets) that will make use of the LTE network. Mind you, most carriers launch a network with maybe one or two supporting devices.

Death of iDen

As awesome as LTE is, iDen is holding it back directly by hanging onto required spectrum and indirectly by sapping a large portion of Sprint’s revenue. That changes in 2013 when Sprint will officially kick iDen to the curb. We’ve known the death of iDen was coming — and it’s been a long time coming — but it’s good to finally see Sprint, dare we say, excited about iDen’s demise.


Last but least — CDMA-based Push-to-Talk. With iDen going the way of the dodo in a couple short years, Sprint needs to move their massively popular Push-to-Talks service to another network/technology. CDMA PTT services have been around for a while — Verizon has tested it numerous times over the last several years for instance — but has never really caught on. Today, Sprint is forcing the hand.

Update: The following paragraph was an error on our part. Cellular coverage and building penetration is largely dependent on the frequency used, not the technology (iDEN/CDMA/WiMAX) used. We mis-read the statement by Sprint.
The move to CDMA will bring two big advantages. First, coverage with CDMA will be better. Signal will travel further thereby allowing for less towers — good for rural users. For cityfolk, CDMA is also a better penetrator of walls.

In all, Sprint has a great plan here — on paper anyway.

The Future: Good-bye, WiMAX

With all the news about LTE and CDMA, where does that leave WiMAX? Pretty much dead in the water. While Sprint will continue releasing WiMAX devices through 2012 (and support WiMAX hardware/users), after said date don’t expect anything new and exciting on the WiMAX front outside of basic support for old hardware.

The LTE rollout highlighted above is again extremely fast paced. On the flip side, WiMAX will top out around 125 million customers covered by the end of 2013.

Everything mentioned above sounds like a fantastic plan that has the potential to thrust Sprint back into the running for nation’s (real) best carrier. Hopefully it all pans out. Giving the AT&T/Verizon duopoly some honest competition will help us all out.

Via: TheVerge


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  • Dude

    CDMA does not have a larger coverage area as compared to iDEN, it has to do with the frequency you run the technology over, the lower the freq the better indoor penetration and iDEN runs on a much lower freq than cdma today. 

  • http://www.gadgetsteria.com The Gadgeteur

    Yeah, that was an error on our part.  We mis-read the statement by Sprint.  Edited article.