We’ve known for some time that Sprint’s iDEN network, acquired when the carrier merged with Nextel, was on its way out. As Sprint starts ramping-up development of its LTE infrastructure, frequencies relegated to iDEN are becoming far too valuable to let stagnate with that aging service, and Sprint has it in its mind to make better use of those bands. The company has now revealed that it indents to pull the final iDEN plug by the end of June, 2013.
What does this mean for smartphone users? If you recently bought a push-to-talk Android on Sprint, you’re probably already in the clear. Sprint’s been pushing its CDMA-based Direct Connect as an alternative to iDEN since last year, and that protocol won’t be affected by this decommissioning.
That’s not to say that there aren’t iDEN Androids that will be crippled by this move, but considering their age, most owners have likely moved on to newer, more capable smartphones, and if they haven’t yet, there’s still plenty of time to do so over the course of the next year. Motorola’s i1, for instance, is already coming up on its two-year birthday. More recently, Sprint got the Motorola Titanium, but at almost a year old itself, and running Android 2.1, it already seems ancient.
In fact, we imagine most smartphone owners would like to see Sprint hurry up and finish killing-off iDEN even faster than it’s planning, in order to build-up its LTE coverage more quickly than it’s able to now. You’ll just have to be patient, as Sprint works to transition its remaining iDEN users over to CDMA.