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Sprint Provides 60-Day Notice for iDEN Shutdown

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original version, submitted May 2, 2013, 12:42 AM:

Re: I'll miss IDEN

iDEN could easily compete if all it was asked to do is carry the PTT traffic, with either Sprint's CDMA or LTE carrying all voice & data. There is no strong technical reason that Sprint could not have kept a small slice of iDEN continuing to operate strictly for PTT, as part of their Network Vision, had they chosen to. There is also no reason that Sprint could not have developed cross-carrier PTT, had they wanted to—notice that Nextel iDEN PTT customers can and routinely do DC with Sprint CDMA-based PTT customers. Can you think of any technical reasons that they could not also PTT with Verizon customers, had Sprint, the industry's PTT leader, chosen to develop cross-carrier PTT?

The PowerSource phones were not perfect, but they could have been improved with another go-around. I myself can't think of a single complicated device that got everything100% right upon initial introduction.

Nextel's implementation of PTT was untouchable in its day, and as a recent convert to Sprint Direct Connect on CDMA ("SDC"), I can say that in my area, Nextel PTT is still far & away the best performer & most reliable of the two. That said, it is also true that Sprint's new CDMA-based PTT is noticeably better than AT&T's "EPTT", and SDC is way, way better than Verizon's anemic PTT.

In some applications PTT is far & away the best tool, and of course in some situations it is totally inappropriate. Either way, PTT has largely been eclipsed by the ubiquity of texting & email capable handsets, which is expected, and it's great to have all these choices. Each mode of wireless communication (voice, PTT, texting, email) has its place, each is good in some situations and lousy in other situations. And of course very individual has his/her preferences of which suits them best.

The fact that Sprint not only failed to promote, develop & improve PTT after taking over Nextel, but the fact that Sprint's executives also apparently actively shunned Nextel & iDEN internally, is what really led to the reduction in popularity of PTT. Ask yourself this: if only 5% of all handsets available today had texting, would texting be as popular as it is today? Nope—you would think the few texters there would be are behaving weirdly. Same goes for PTT. The fact that Sprint let Nextel in particular, & PTT in general, languish, and because there is no cross-carrier interoperability of genuine radio-dispatch PTT, and because Sprint offered so few handsets with built-in PTT capability, the use of PTT could only go down. PTT's decline was also further accelerated by the introduction of & promotion of texting and the agreements between all carriers in the wireless industry that led to cross-carrier text messaging interoperability.

I'm not saying PTT is the end-all or the be-all, it is not. But PTT has inherent value, it can be used correctly & appropriately by a lot more people than use it now, and in many cases PTT is far quicker, more efficient & safer than texting, and in plenty of cases PTT is faster & safer than a regular (full-duplex) voice call. But because of the points I made in the preceding paragraph, PTT was effectively decoupled from the train & allowed to coast to a stop on a side spur of the track, the result of conscious decisions made by Sprint's executives, not due to any issues inherent to PTT.

Nextel iDEN, used strictly for PTT traffic, could easily have remained relevant, useful & profitable, had Sprint approached it intelligently.

edited May 2, 2013, 12:44 AM to the current version:

Re: I'll miss IDEN

iDEN could easily compete if all it was asked to do is carry the PTT traffic, with either Sprint's CDMA or LTE carrying all voice & data. There is no strong technical reason that Sprint could not have kept a small slice of iDEN continuing to operate strictly for PTT, as part of their Network Vision, had they chosen to. There is also no reason that Sprint could not have developed cross-carrier PTT, had they wanted to—notice that Nextel iDEN PTT customers can and routinely do DC with Sprint CDMA-based PTT customers. Can you think of any technical reasons that they could not also PTT with Verizon customers, had Sprint, the industry's PTT leader, chosen to develop cross-carrier PTT?

The PowerSource phones were not perfect, but they could have been improved with another go-around. I myself can't think of a single complicated device that got everything100% right upon initial introduction.

Nextel's implementation of PTT was untouchable in its day, and as a recent convert to Sprint Direct Connect on CDMA ("SDC"), I can say that in my area, Nextel PTT is still far & away the best performer & most reliable of the two. That said, it is also true that Sprint's new CDMA-based PTT is noticeably better than AT&T's "EPTT", and SDC is way, way better than Verizon's anemic PTT.

In some applications PTT is far & away the best tool, and of course in some situations it is totally inappropriate. Either way, PTT has largely been eclipsed by the ubiquity of texting & email capable handsets, which is expected, and it's great to have all these choices. Each mode of wireless communication (voice, PTT, texting, email) has its place, each is good in some situations and lousy in other situations. And of course every individual has his/her preferences of which suits them best.

The fact that Sprint not only failed to promote, develop & improve PTT after taking over Nextel, but the fact that Sprint's executives also apparently actively shunned Nextel & iDEN internally, is what really led to the reduction in popularity of PTT. Ask yourself this: if only 5% of all handsets available today had texting, would texting be as popular as it is today? Nope—you would think the few texters there would be are behaving weirdly. Same goes for PTT. The fact that Sprint let Nextel in particular, & PTT in general, languish, and because there is no cross-carrier interoperability of genuine radio-dispatch PTT, and because Sprint offered so few handsets with built-in PTT capability, the use of PTT could only go down. PTT's decline was also further accelerated by the introduction of & promotion of texting and the agreements between all carriers in the wireless industry that led to cross-carrier text messaging interoperability.

I'm not saying PTT is the end-all or the be-all, it is not. But PTT has inherent value, it can be used correctly & appropriately by a lot more people than use it now, and in many cases PTT is far quicker, more efficient & safer than texting, and in plenty of cases PTT is faster & safer than a regular (full-duplex) voice call. But because of the points I made in the preceding paragraph, PTT was effectively decoupled from the train & allowed to coast to a stop on a side spur of the track, the result of conscious decisions made by Sprint's executives, not due to any issues inherent to PTT.

Nextel iDEN, used strictly for PTT traffic, could easily have remained relevant, useful & profitable, had Sprint approached it intelligently.

 
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