Sprint's decommissioning its iDEN network more quickly than expected, and it's taking down some collocated Clearwire WiMax cell sites in the process

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

July 31, 2012

2 Min Read
Sprint Sacrifices Clearwire WiMax in iDEN Demise

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) is shutting down its iDEN network as part of its Network Vision and move to Long Term Evolution (LTE), but it's also taking some of Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR)'s WiMax sites down in the process.

Sprint has already decommissioned 9,600 iDEN cell sites this year, ahead of its planned third-quarter completion date. For Clearwire, whose WiMax equipment is collocated with Sprint iDEN sites in some locations, that means it's being shut down as well. Clearwire notes in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing that it isn't likely it'll continue operating its equipment at those sites once Sprint decommissions them. (See Sprint's iDEN Will Be iDONE in June 2013.)

"We determined the useful lives of the Network and base station equipment at these sites should be accelerated beginning in the first quarter of 2012 from a weighted-average remaining useful life of approximately 5 years to approximately 1 - 2 years based on the expected date of decommissioning," the filing reads. "We will continue to monitor the estimated useful lives of our network assets as our plans continue to evolve."

Why this matters
Clearwire has wholesale customers offering service on its WiMax network that were likely counting on another couple of years left in the network -- or at least to be supported until Clearwire's own Long Term Evolution Time Division Duplex (LTE TDD) network is up and running mid-next year. The shortened life expectancy could pose a problem in some markets.

The filing didn't include how many Clearwire cell sites are affected, but a spokesman tells Fierce Wireless that it's only a small number of them. The wholesaler currently offers WiMax in 71 markets, reaching 134 million people.

For more

  • Sprint Hunkers Down for Network Vision

  • Analyst: Sprint Will Be Major Player in 2014

  • Sprint Sets Due Date for iDEN's LTE Rebirth

  • Sprint Details iDEN's Death March

  • Sprint Accelerates Network Vision

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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