New iDEN Providers Popping Up?

9/23/15: Update on iDEN

On July 1, 2013, Sprint shut down its (via its merger with Nextel) national iDEN network completely.  It plans to utilize the spectrum that once serviced iDEM to augment exist 3G/4G networks, and to create new ones in some markets.


Sprint’s shutdown of its iDEN service marks the end of the eight-year period during which Sprint owned and ran Nextel’s iDEN network in the United States. The entire period was wrought with mismanagement, and clashed with Sprint’s attempt to upgrade and build out its 3G network.

By the end of 2010, Sprint’s reputation was vastly deteriorating, and the company vowed to give up its iDEN network (along with DSL services) and to focus solely on 3G/4G services – nationwide.  It launched a “Network Vision” Plan in December 2010, and heartily stated that it would upgrade and modernize half of its 80,000 cell sites (including Nextel’s) by incorporating multi-mode base stations that could accommodate multiple wireless tenants. This strategy was both cost-efficient and spectrum efficient.

In the Summer of 2013, Sprint stated that by year-end it would provide LTE to a subscribe base of over 200 million POPs across the nation.

As of December 2014, Sprint served 57.5 million subscribers, and was ranked as the #3 wireless carriers in the nation; however, T-Mobile is expected to surpass Sprint by the end of 2015, according to a number of industry analysts.

What this means to Landlords with Sprint or Nextel Cell Site Leases

Sprint has recently been active with Lease Modifications and Equipment Upgrades.  If you are already party to a cell site lease, then you are likely to be familiar with lease negotiation tactics. There are, however, certain “tricks of the trade” that we hope to educate our clients about to ensure they receive fair treatment and reap ultimate benefits, when renegotiating the terms of a Lease with Wireless Carriers, such as Sprint. Steel in the Air can help you to:

  1. Determine what fees (if any) should be charged to Sprint;
  2. Understand Sprint’s reasons for requesting the change;
  3. Negotiate the Lease in a way that protects and supports your interests.
  4. Evaluate whether or not changes to the language and terms of the Lease are in your favor; and/ or

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An associate of mine whose company does drive testing has recently informed me of some interesting drive test results that they have been finding. In some areas, smaller independent iDEN providers appear to have popped up. As you may know, Nextel uses iDEN, but is expected to switch to CDMA to match Sprint.

What does this mean? If you have any ideas- please feel free to comment.

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