Saturday, August 9, 2008

Sprint Speculated To Be Thinking Of Offloading iDEN Network

Chris Ziegler over on Engadget is thinking that Sprint may be doing some serious thinking about offloading the iDEN network acquired from Nextel.

Say it ain't so.

I have a sneaking admiration for the iDEN network. Back a few years ago when Cingular (now AT&T) was on my ... back ... like flies on a ribroast to abandon my tri-mode, tri-band phone because it had TDMA and analog capabilities, I looked EVERYWHERE for a phone. I practically moved into the nearby Verizon and Cingular (now AT&T) stores trying to find something I thought might work.

Well, practically within walking distance of Camp Axinar at the time was a Sprint/Nextel store and I saw this one phone called the Motorola i355 that I REALLY thought was cool as all get out.

No, it didn't have any iPhone or Blackberry-type features - but it looked like a cell phone you could hammer nails with.

Now, I swear to God, before AT&T's 3G / WCDMA system came out, I swore up and down on a stack of Bibles that iDEN was the clearest signal of anything that was available at the time. Not only that, the Motorola i355 had an absolutely BOOMING speakerphone. I was very, VERY close to going with Sprint/Nextel as a matter of fact.

Actually I even developed quite an interest in Nextel's pre-paid counterpart Boost Mobile, which at that time had the slogan, "Where You At?" Wow ... an advertising slogan in Ebonics ... you can't beat that.

THEN I looked at the iDEN coverage map and started getting a little woozy.

I actually started digging all the way back to the old New York Times archives to try to figure out why the iDEN coverage footprint was so bad and why there was so much talk about bandwidth issues and I found out that Nextel didn't even start out as a cell phone company. They started out as a walkie-talkie company.

Commercial application.

5 second to maybe 2 minute walkie-talkie "bursts" instead of, for instance, the hours-long trivial chatter Mrs. Axinar has on a regular basis with her moms and her girlfriends.

I guess when Nextel decided to try to convert their system into something to compete with the cell phone vendors they really got in trouble.

So, it would be a little sad to see Sprint sell the iDEN network and have it possibly phased out.

Perhaps they would consider spinning it off or something of the sort under the "Boost" name.

I'm looking at the current Boost Mobile web site and I don't see any of the "Where It At?" stuff, but I do see a group of models who put me in mind of the women from the "Just $1.99/minute" they run during Star Trek: Remastered in the middle of the night on WCPO.

Interesting - you know - if the sultry blondes really DO come along with the Boost Mobile phones maybe Sprint SHOULD think long and hard about selling Nextel (oh my God that was a groaner even for me ...) :)

Sprint Shopping iDEN Network - PC Magazine

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