Sprint issued a company statement reaffirming its commitment for its Nextel unit. The iDEN powered network has been rumored to be “on the block” for months. “The iDEN network is a key differentiator for Sprint, as it allows us to offer products and services no other carrier in the industry can match. We continue to build on our support for our industry-leading push-to-talk Nextel Direct Connect franchise through our aggressive marketing efforts which exploit the unique features and functionality of the iDEN network,” said Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint in a company statement. Let me translate the corporate PR speak – “we couldn’t find a buyer.” A large chunk of the millions of customers Sprint has lost over the past couple years have been iDEN subscribers. Talk to many of them and they’ll tell you that the iDEN network went to hell after the Sprint Nextel merger.
It’s a far different environment now than in Nextel’s heyday – Verizon, and even Sprint itself, have launched competing “push-to-talk” services on CDMA platforms. Sprint will have its work cut out for it to reverse the trend of customers fleeing from iDEN. Announced strategies include launching additional handsets with handset partner Motorola, including an upcoming BlackBerry Curve edition. Sprint also intends to beef up Boost Mobile, their prepaid arm which runs on the iDEN network. An unlimited calling plan will be introduced in February 2009, which hopes to capitalize on the poor economic conditions faced by many consumers today. Will it be enough?