Sprint today said it has expanded the reach of its Rural Roaming Preferred Program to include 12 new carriers. The increased footprint covers 34 million POPs across 23 states and 352,000 square miles. The carriers involved include SouthernLINC Wireless, C Spire Wireless, nTelos, Nex-Tech Wireless, Flat Wireless, SI Wireless, Inland Cellular, Illinois Valley Cellular, Carolina West Wireless, James Valley Telecommunications, VTel Wireless, and Phoenix Wireless. According to Sprint, its customers will be able to roam onto the LTE 4G networks operated by these carriers and vice versa. Sprint further said it is working with these carriers to entice them to participate in Sprint's handset ecosystem. If they do, it could help them all reduce development costs and allow the smaller carriers to gain access to leading devices sooner.
SouthernLinc Wireless indicated recently that the company has no plans to switch from its iDEN-based voice and data network to a different technology. In fact, the company will continue to invest in its iDEN infrastructure so that it can provide reliable push-to-talk services. SouthernLinc has offerred iDEN-based services for years. It has had a voice roaming agreement with Sprint, which also runs an iDEN network, in place since 2002. It expanded that agreement to include data as recently as 2011. SouthernLinc's customers will lose the ability to roam on Sprint's nationwide iDEN network when Sprint shuts it down by June 30, 2013. SouthernLink CEO Don Horsley said the company has a nationwide solution ready to replace the lost roaming capability, but he did not provide details on what that solution might be.