Sprint Nextel
by: Brian Clarke

August 12, 2005
Printable Version

Sprint and Nextel LogosOn August 3rd, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) approved the merger of Sprint and Nextel. The two companies said they will complete the merger on August 12th and begin trading under the unified company’s stock symbol “S” on Monday August 15th.

The combined company has about 35 million subscribers plus 10 million customers through affiliates and partners such as Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile. That’s right folks. Virgin Mobile uses Sprint’s network and Boost Mobile uses Nextel network.

Now, all this sounds like this is happening at the flip of a switch. Believe me when I say it is not going to feel like that for their subscribers. Sprint and Nextel run on completely different network technologies. Cingular and AT&T Wireless, for example used and still use Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). So the merging of those two networks is a lot easier. Despite it being easier, Cingular is still in the process of merging these two networks two years later.

Wireless companies subscriber comparisonOn the other hand, Sprint uses Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Nextel uses iDen, a proprietary technology developed by Motorola. These technologies are not compatible with each other. The two company’s services will pretty much operate independently while Sprint converts Nextel’s towers to use CDMA. Over time Nextel will become essentially a product line from Sprint. This doesn’t sound like a “merger of equals” as the two companies have put it.

So, in reality, what does this mean for current customers of Sprint Nextel right now? The answer is… not much. The logo on you bill will probably change. Sprint users are not able to use Nextel services and vice-versa. In comparison, when Cingular bought AT&T Wireless, subscribers of each network were able to roam onto the others networks for free. It remains to be seen if Sprint and Nextel customers will be able to call each other for free, like Cingular and AT&T Wireless customers were able to do almost immediately after the merger.

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Copyright 2006 Brian Clarke. All Rights Reserved.