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Sprint Close To Turning Off 2G iDEN Service

Overland Park, Kan. – Sprint is on schedule to shut down its 2G iDEN network at the end of June as announced last May to reduce operating costs and repurpose the spectrum for higher speed service, the carrier said.

The last full day of iDEN service will be June 29, when iDEN phones will no longer receive voice and data service or be able to make 911 calls.

Since mid-2011, Sprint has been selling CDMA phones that not only operate in its 1.9GHz band but also in iDEN’s lower 800MHz band to take advantage of that spectrum when the iDEN cell sites go off-line. Those CDMA phones will benefit from an immediate improvement in service when CDMA is implemented at 800MHz, the company previously said.

The shutdown is part of the carrier’s Network Vision plan to upgrade its network. Benefits include the improvement of 3G voice and data quality and provide stronger in-building signal penetration, the carrier has said.

Under the plan, Sprint is consolidating its separate iDEN and 3G CDMA networks to reduce the number of cell sites to about 40,000 from more than 60,000. The cell sites will use multimode base-station technology that enables each base station to support 3G CDMA and 4G LTE technology. The new network could also host other technologies and bands as well.

The carrier has also said it would add 4G LTE to its 800MHz band to complement LTE service being rolled out in its 1.9GHz band.

 iDEN subscribers who want to continue with push-to-talk (PTT) service can migrate to Sprint’s CDMA-based Direct Connect service, which offers triple the PTT coverage of IDEN as well as international direct connect to Latin American countries.

Sprint said it has been notifying customers to migrate from the iDEN Nextel network via letters, legal notifications, email reminders and text messages.