Sprint to decommission its iDEN towers for transition to LTE, starting this year

Posted on Apr 13 2012 - 12:34pm by Mike Wewerka

Starting this year, Sprint will begin to decommission some of its iDEN cell towers, which it will use for it’s upcoming LTE network. According Bob Azzi, the Senior Vice President of Networks at Sprint, the process has already begun and that this year alone, they’ll turn off about 9,600 iDEN towers, which equates to about 1/3 of the companies iDEN network. The remaining iDEN towers will all be decommissioned in 2013 as Sprint continues its transition to its Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network.

There is just one hiccup in this whole idea, there are still six million people using Sprint’s iDEN network. Sprint apparently has plans for this already in place, starting with the removal of all iDEN products from retail locations and online. The other step is helping those customer still on iDEN to upgrade to a CDMA equipped device.

While Sprint has yet to officially “switch on” any of its LTE locations, the rollout of their new service seems to be on track, with Sprint saying by the end of 2012, which is only eight months away, they’ll have over 123 million customers covered with LTE and by the end of 2013, over 250 million. That’s quite and aggressive plan, when you consider that Verizon, the leader in LTE coverage, has just over 200 million people covered and it took them two years to achieve that milestone. Sprint is attempting to get 123 million (roughly 75 million less) covered in only 8 months and 250 million, in just a year and half.

The best part? Data on LTE will still be unlimited and with far less stress (due to less customers) on their network, we could see download and upload speeds equivalent to, if not faster than, Verizon and AT&T’s LTE network.

Source: Fierce Wireless