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Sprint will replace iDEN network with LTE by 2014

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Sprint will retool its 800MHz spectrum from iDEN to LTE by 2014, starting with the shutdown of a third of its sites this year.

Cell Tower (Shutter Stock)
Cell Tower (Shutter Stock)

Sprint will deploy LTE on its 800MHz network by 2014, according to Bob Azzi, senior vice president of networks. In a briefing at the carrier's corporate headquarters in Kansas Azzi told reporters that the move is yet to be approved by the FCC, but the process has already begun and should proceed smoothly. First preparations for the switch to LTE will take place this year when Sprint decommission 9,600 iDEN cell sites — one third of its total iDEN network — with the rest to follow in 2013. The carrier has the small issue of six million iDEN subscribers to deal with, but will continue to aggressively target customers for CDMA upgrades and will start removing all iDEN devices from retail this weekend, according to TechnoBuffalo.

Despite the setback of the LightSquared fiasco, Sprint's LTE rollout appears to be on track. The retooling of the 800MHz network will provide additional coverage alongside Sprint's 1900MHz LTE rollout and Clearwire's 2500MHz service, which will launch at 5,000 TD-LTE cell sites in June next year. Sprint says its LTE network will cover 123 million people by the end of 2012, expanding to 250 million by the end of 2013.