Sprint Network to Say Goodbye to Nextel

As part of a push to modernize its network, Sprint will phase out its Nextel network starting in 2013. The Nextel network doesn’t support the fast data plans required by smartphones, and Sprint’s plan to use the Nextel network for cheap prepaid services didn’t pan out, according to USAToday, which has the story:

Sprint had said before that it would eventually shut down the aging Nextel network, but hadn’t said when. It has about 10.6 million subscribers on the Nextel network, some of whom are using it under the Boost Mobile brand. Another 400,000 use phones that can access both the Sprint and Nextel networks.

Altogether, more than one in five Sprint subscribers use the Nextel network. Sprint plans to offer them Nextel’s signature push-to-talk function on the Sprint network instead.

The phase-out is part of a network modernization plan announced Monday that will cost $4 billion to $5 billion. It is aimed at saving Sprint $10 billion to $11 billion over seven years. Sprint is hiring Alcatel-Lucent SA, LM Ericsson AB and Samsung Electronics Co. as the main vendor for the program.

Sprint, the third-largest wireless carrier in the country, has lost money in every quarter since 2007. Part of the reason is that it’s been saddled with the cost of running two incompatible networks, compared with its larger competitors, Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc.

Nextel has been losing money since Sprint bought it in 2005, according to the article. It’s high time to trim some fat.