Are You Ready for the Nextel Network Shutdown Now Just Days Away?

They said it, we said it, now we’ll say it again: The shutdown of the Nextel National Network is happening at the end of this month. Are you ready with another wireless communication solution to replace Nextel push-to-talk phones?

We’ve known for years that the Nextel National Network, which is based on iDEN technology inadequate to meet the data needs of modern smartphones, was on its way out. Sprint, which now owns the network, announced the shutdown in late 2010. Later it set the date: June 30, 2013. Earlier this month, Sprint laid out the plan down to the minute.

In a news release the company said, “Sprint remains on schedule to decommission the iDEN Nextel National Network beginning at 12:01 a.m. eastern time on June 30. iDEN devices will then no longer receive voice service—including 911 calls and push-to-talk—or data service. Sprint will shut down switch locations in rapid succession on June 30, followed by powering down equipment and eliminating backhaul at each cell site. The last full day of iDEN service for active users will be June 29.”

Despite the months of warnings about the shutdown, there have been indications that many users were slow to explore their options and secure new service. With this in mind, BearCom last month issued a white paper, Considering All the Options for Replacing Nextel Push-to-Talk Communications Services. In it, BearCom reminds organizations impacted by the shutdown that they have choices from among several push-to-talk phone systems but can consider two-way radios as well. It describes how two-way radios are an attractive alternative to phones in many applications.

The paper said, “Motorola Solutions, the industry leader, offers a huge selection of two-way radios, led by its MOTOTRBO digital line. Motorola MOTOTRBO eliminates the limitations imposed by the Nextel network on the number of talk groups and the number of users in a talk group. Also eliminated are service-level issues caused by networks that get overloaded with users during peak usage times. And with Motorola, there are no concerns about which devices have push-to-talk capability. They all do.”

Of course, rival phone companies are eager to sign up Nextel customers. This month, AT&T announced it plans to offer push-to-talk capabilities on the Apple iPhone. Naturally, Sprint is urging customers to stick with its new nationwide network.

Meanwhile, what will happen to the old network? Sprint says it will recycle nearly all the iDEN network equipment that it can’t use. That’s more than 100 million pounds of antennas, radios, server racks, cables, batteries, and air-conditioners. Even the concrete shelters used to house the equipment will be reused as composite for roads and bridges. Sprint says that with 30,000 iDEN installations to take down, it will be next year before the process is complete.

Nextel users, of course, need to get moving much sooner.

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