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Sprint able to use 800MHz spectrum for LTE thanks to FCC order

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The Federal Communications Commission has loosened restrictions on the use of 800MHz spectrum, allowing Sprint to move forward with its plans to swap out its iDEN network with LTE.

Sprint Flatiron Logo
Sprint Flatiron Logo

A large part of Sprint's plans to deploy LTE includes repurposing the 800MHz spectrum it currently owns, but the carrier was still waiting for government approval on the move. That particular obstacle has now been removed, with the Federal Communications Commission issuing an order yesterday that removes restrictions on the band, allowing Sprint — and other carriers that have licensed the spectrum — to use 800MHz for both 3G and LTE networks. Sprint currently uses the spectrum for its iDEN network, which still serves six million customers. In an effort to move those customers onto its CDMA network, Sprint started shutting down iDEN towers and removing iDEN devices from its retail locations last month. It's also planning to release an Android app, dubbed "Direct Connect Now," that will replicate the push-to-talk functionality that the iDEN network provides.

Along with the 800MHz order, the FCC also instituted new notification requirements that will help prevent any new use of the spectrum from interfering with public safety services operating within the band. As for Sprint's timeline, the carrier currently plans to have the 800MHz spectrum transitioned to LTE by 2014.