Sprint Nextel Corporation is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world. With 51.7 million subscribers, Sprint Nextel operates the third largest wireless telecommunications network in the United States (based on total wireless customers), behind Cingular Wireless and Verizon Wireless. Sprint is a global Tier 1 Internet carrier, and, as such, makes up a portion of the Internet backbone. In the United States, the company also operates the largest wireless broadband network and is the third largest long distance provider.

The company was created in 2005 by the $35 billion purchase of NEXTEL Communications]] by Sprint Corporation. In 2006, the company spun-off its local landline telephone business, naming it Embarq and also completed the $6.5 billion acquisition of Nextel Partners, one of its largest affiliates, which primarily provides Nextel wireless services to more rural markets.

Sprint Nextel has its executive headquarteres in Reston, Virginia and maintains an operational and engineering headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas (where the largest number of Sprint Nextel employees are based). Both internally and externally, Sprint is an acceptable short name for the company.

The company outsources its customer service operations to Convergys, the world's leading customer care outsourcing company.




The Sprint Corporation was founded in 1899 by Cleyson Leroy Brown under the name of the "Brown Telephone Company" in the small town of Abilgfene, Kansas. The company was a landline telephone company that operated as a competitor to the Bell System.[1]

In 1938, after emerging from bankruptcy, Brown changed its name to United Utilities. The company grew steadily through acquisitions and changed its name to United Telecommunications in 1972, at which time it provided local telephone service in many areas of the Midwest and South. United Telecom also operated many other types of businesses. In 1980 United Telecom launched a national X.25 data service, Uninet. To enter the long-distance voice market, United Telecom acquired ISACOMM in 1981 and US Telephone in 1984.

Southern Pacific Communications Company (SPCC), a unit of the Southern Pacific Railroad, began providing long-distance telephone service shortly after the Execunet II decision late in 1978. The Railroad had extensive rights of way that could be used to lay long-distance communications. Prior attempts at offering long distance service were not approved by the Federal Communications Commission, though the company's fax service (SpeedFAX) had been permitted. SPC was headquartered in Burlingame, California (where Sprint still maintains a small presence on Adrian Ct.).

The history of the name Sprint is, for the most part, wrong in most telecommunications resources. The "SP" in Sprint had no relation to Southern Pacific whatsoever.

In the late 1970s a contest was created by C. Gus Grant, then President of SPCC, and won by a secretary by the name of Susan Guehrig. The award was a cash prize, which Gus ended up paying out of his pocket. He had no account to charge it to so he was never reimbursed for the payout.

As referenced above SPCC was only permitted to provide Private Line service and not switched services. With MCI recently releasing EXECUNET SPCC went to court with the FCC to get the right to offer switched services. The reason for the contest was to name the new switched service. The name was derived from Switched PRIvate Network Telecommunications. An advertisement dated 7/76 confirms the source of the name.

The SPRINT service was first marketed to six metropolitan areas, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Diego and Anaheim. The switches were located in Los Angeles and New York. A customer was required to have a Private Line connection to one of these switches in order to use the service. An access fee was charged per Private Line. The customer was then billed at 2.6 cents per tenth of a minute increment.

Southern Pacific Communications became part of GTE in 1982 under the name GTE Sprint. GTE had previously acquired a national X.25 provider, Telenet, in 1979.

In 1986, GTE Sprint was merged with GTE Telenet, US Telephone, Uninet, and ISACOMM to form US Sprint. This was a partnership owned by GTE and United Telecom. In 1989 United Telecom purchased controlling interest in US Sprint. In 1991 United Telecom completed its acquisition of US Sprint. That same year United Telecom changed its name to Sprint.

In 1993, Sprint acquired Centel, which allowed Sprint to provide local service in a total of 18 states.

In 1995, the company began to offer wireless service under the Sprint PCS brand.

Sprint Partnership With RadioShackEdit

In September, 1996, Sprint announced an alliance with RadioShack, and, in 1997, Sprint Stores opened at RadioShack to offer their portfolio of communications services and products through RadioShack Stores across the United States. Since then, over 10 million Sprint cell phones have been sold via the RadioShack outlets. RadioShack was one of the first retailers to offer Sprint services and PCS cellular and an all-digital nationwide network for its customers.

On October 5, 1999, Sprint and MCI WorldCom announced a $129 billion merger agreement between the two companies. The deal would have been the largest corporate merger in history at the time. However the deal did not go through because of pressure from the United States Department of Justice and the European Union on concerns of it creating a monopoly.

In 2003, Sprint began recombining their local telecom, long distance, wireline, and wireless business units into a new company, marketing the combined company as "One Sprint". In April 2004, the separately traded wireless tracking stock, "PCS", was absorbed into the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) "FON" ticker symbol, Sprint's former ticker symbol. (FON stood for "Fiber Optic Network", which was Sprint's bragging right, but was also a homophone of the word "phone").


File:Buk nextel logo en.jpg

NEXTEL was founded as FleetCall in 1987 by Morgan E. O' Brien, a Washington, DC, communications attorney, and changed its name to Nextel Communications in 1993. In 1995, wireless pioneer Craig McCaw became a significant investor in the company. Mark Warner, a former Virginia Governor and possible 2008 presidential candidate was one of the early investors. Daniel Akerson served as CEO of Nextel for part of his career.

NEXTEL Communications was formerly traded on the NASDAQ under the ticker "NXTL".

Merger of Sprint and NEXTELEdit

On December 15, 2004, Sprint and NEXTEL announced they would merge to form Sprint Nextel Corporation. While billed as a merger of equals, the transaction was actually the purchase of NEXTEL Communications by Sprint Corporation. At the time of the merger announcement Sprint and NEXTEL were the No. 3 and No. 5 leading providers in the US mobile phone industry.

Sprint shareholders overwhelmingly approved the merger on July 13, 2005. The merger deal was approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and U.S. Department of Justice on August 3, 2005. The FCC placed a condition on the merger that Sprint Nextel is to provide wireless service within the 2.5 GHz band within the next four years. Sprint Nextel was officially formed on August 12, 2005, when the deal was completed.

Sprint and NEXTEL both faced opposition to the merger, mostly from regional affiliates that provide wireless services on behalf of the companies. These regional affiliates felt that the new company would be violating non-compete agreements that the former companies had made with the affiliates.

Nextel is known for its free incoming call plan. However, since the merger Nextel Customers are now able to convert their plans to the Sprint side, and Sprint Customers can convert their accounts to the Nextel side. Both changes would require purchasing new phone equipment; however, Sprint Nextel may buy back fairly new but used cell phones for up to $40.

Popular features from each side have been incorporated into the other - Sprint now offers Free Incoming plans, and Nextel now offers Fair & Flexible plans.

Sprint Nextel todayEdit

Sprint Nextel currently offers cellular phone service under its Sprint PCS and Nextel brands. It is also a provider of landline, long distance, and business telecommunications, and is a Tier 1 Internet service provider under the name SprintLink.

Sprint Nextel also offers pre-paid services through the Boost Mobile brand, and it provides services in the Philippines through the Next Mobile brand. Sprint Nextel wholesales capacity on its PCS wireless network to companies called Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO); this means the MVNO uses the Sprint PCS network for coverage. The MVNOs resell wireless services using their own brand. Current MVNOs using the PCS network to provide coverage include, 9278 Mobile, Virgin Mobile, EarthLink Wireless, BeyondMobile, Working Assets,Telispire, Excel Wireless,STI Mobile, Liberty Wireless, Powernet Global, PlatinumTel,ConnexOne, Mobile ESPN, Disney Mobile, Movida Wireless, Helio, Primus Wireless, Voce, Jitterbug Wireless, and Qwest.



Sprint Nextel spun off its local telephone division (LTD) into a separate company officially named Embarq Corporation and traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol EQ. The local phone company is the fifth largest local exchange carrier in the United States (under the Baby Bells) and the largest independent local provider, serving customers in 18 states and providing local, long distance and high-speed data services to residential and business customers.

Embarq became a fully separate company on May 17, 2006. It is headquartered in Overland Park, KS.

Quadruple PlayEdit

On November 2, 2005 Sprint Nextel and a coalition of US-based Cable television providers announced a partnership where cable TV customers would be able to bundle their Sprint or Nextel cell phones with either their Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications or |Advance/Newhouse Communications cable bills. In addition the group of Cable companies agreed to their intention to develop products with Sprint Nextel where users would be able to initiate advanced features like control their Digital Video Recorder (DVRs) by cell phone.[2]

Affiliate acquisitionEdit

In 2005, Sprint Nextel acquired three of its wireless affiliates, US Unwired (deal closed in August), Gulf Coast Wireless (deal closed in October), and IWO Holdings (deal closed in October). Analysts speculate that Sprint Nextel will acquire additional affiliates.

On September 1, 2005, Sprint Nextel combined plan offerings of its Sprint PCS and Nextel brands to bring more uniformity across the company's offerings.


File:Sprint nextel true logo.jpg

The new logo of the Sprint Nextel Corporation was one of the first attempts at seamlessly meshing the initial brands of both the Sprint Corporation and Nextel Communications. The logo is a blend of the former Sprint "pin drop" marketing image as well as the colors of Nextel's bright yellow and black logo design with its cellular service level bars that, in past marketing, would get "typed" from a single vertical black line. [3] The company also continues to reinforce the idea of a combination of brand strengths on several levels of marketing including a voice over exclaiming "Sprint, together with Nextel" or "Nextel, together with Sprint" as a way to play on the idea of a merger of equals.

Sprint PCSEdit

Sprint PCS is the main wireless brand of Sprint Nextel, and was the main brand of the former Sprint Corporation.

The Sprint PCS network operates a 3G wireless network, using the 1xRTT standard, which is part of the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) standard. Sprint is currently rolling out a higher speed wireless network using Evolution-Data Optimized|EV-DO technology. They expect to spend over 2.5 billion dollars upgrading the existing network to EV-DO technology. As of early 2006, Sprint's EV-DO Power Vision network reached more then 150 Million people. It is expected to reach 190 Million people by the end of 2006. Sprint has announced plans to continue upgrading their 3G EV-DO network, until it reaches 260 Million people in 2007.[4] By the end of 2007, Sprint expects to have fully rolled out their EV-DO Rev.A network-wide.[5] Sprint Nextel have also stated plans to invest $7 Billion this year to improve its network.[6]

On May 9, 2006 Sprint Nextel and Alltel agreed on a new Nationwide Roaming partnership. Sprint News Release, Alltel news Release The new roaming agreement is for both voice and (1x & EV-DO) data roaming coverage. This new partnership is different from Alltel's voice only roaming agreement with Verizon Wireless. The new agreement is (reciprocal), meaning customers from both companies get to roam on to each other's networks. Giving Alltel customers access to Sprint's 1x & EV-DO network, and Sprint customers access to Alltel's denser rural 1x & EV-DO voice and data coverage. This agreement represents the first of its kind between US wireless carriers.

Sprint's EV-DO (Power Vision) data options include Sprint TV, Sprint Radio (both streaming and SIRIUS satellite music) Stations, Sprint Music Store, Sprint On-Demand, unlimited Web access, video and picture mail, wireless chat and games. It is currently being offered in 41 states in the US.

Sprint's Vision data access starts at $10 a month regardless of whether the phone is a standard or PDA Smart-Device phone.

Unlike Verizon's EV-DO offering, Sprint's Power Vision content is available in areas without EV-DO coverage, albeit at the lower speeds of the 1xRTT network. CDMA 1x data speeds can reach 144 Kbps, while EV-DO Currently has bursts of up to 2 Mbps.

While many CDMA carriers like Verizon have chosen to use the BREW interface on their phones, Sprint has opted to use the more widespread Java interface for their phone's application support. This allows for the use of Third-Party software applications like the wireless phone web browser Opera Mini, services like Google maps, or free e-mail client Flurry Mail, and other free software applications.

Sprint Nextel maintains its nationwide PCS presence with the help of affiliates. These smaller companies, in agreement with Sprint, build network infrastructure as well as operate retail stores. In exchange, the smaller companies receive usage of Sprint's brand, radio spectrum, customer service and billing. In most cases, these affiliate carriers are transparent to the end user or consumer. This has also given Sprint a unique advantage over other carriers, in that their entire network was built for Sprint. Other national carriers coverage areas are made up of merged and acquired networks, which can cause inconsistent network harmony and other related problems.

Alamosa PCS (WAS) the largest of its affiliate carriers. Sprint Nextel completed the acquisition of Alamosa Holdings on February, 2 2006. Other affiliates include Ubiquitel, iPCS, Shentel, Enterprise, Northern PCS, and Swiftel. (See the Forced acquisitions and settlements section below for more details on acquisitions)

Sprint Nextel also offers WiFi 802.11 service in some major airports, cafes, hotels and convention centers.

Of historical note, when Sprint began offering wireless service in 1995 in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area, it was the very first PCS-based wireless network in the Americas. Although the current Sprint PCS network utilizes CDMA, the Washington area network was based on GSM. Eventually Sprint converted that network to CDMA, then sold the GSM infrastructure in 1999 to Omnipoint (which eventually became part of T-Mobile USA).

Sprint Music StoreEdit

On October 31, 2005 the Sprint Music Store officially launched for PCS customers. Initial record-label participation included: EMI Music, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group. According to claims made by Sprint, the service has become such a hit that by February 15, 2006 one-million songs had been downloaded.[7] Then by June 27, 2006 the store had reached over 4 million downloads. [8]


NEXTEL is the former wireless brand of NEXTEL Communications, and it operates on Motorola's iDEN protocol which uses time division multiple access (TDMA) based technology. Unlike other cellular operators, Nextel utilizes the specialized mobile radio band (SMR) and was one of the first operators in the United States to offer nationwide digital-cellular radio coverage. The Nextel brand has over 18.5 million U.S. subscribers, and is particularly popular in the southern United States.

Some of Nextel's special features include its push to talk (PTT) feature, which simulates the half-duplex operation of a two-way radio, as well as GPS integration in later handsets. However, there are several downsides related to using this proprietary Motorola technology standard. It has been suggested there has been a lack of innovation in handset size, weight, and function compared to cellular industry trends, though many believe this has begun to change as result of the Sprint Nextel merger.

Initially, there was much speculation that current Nextel subscribers would be required to replace their existing handsets due to incompatibility between the standards used on both the Nextel and Sprint PCS network. However, since the time of the merger, Sprint Nextel has been working to assure its customers that both the current iDEN and CDMA technologies will continue to be supported for the current-time and that dual-band phones are being developed which will work on both networks simultaneously. Sprint Nextel plans to make a major marketing push in 2008 to convert users of the iDen network to CDMA users.

The push-to-talk (PTT) feature, with which Nextel has gained popularity, is expected to be made interoperable between the Sprint and Nextel networks by 2008. Currenty, Sprint PCS has its own push-to-talk service called ReadyLink which is based on the SIP VoIP protocol. Due to the difference in technology, users of the ReadyLink service cannot make or receive push-to-talk calls with users of the iDEN-based network. The integration of the two networks will be dependent on the deployment of Sprint's chosen successor to the first-phase of their high-speed wireless EV-DO network. The new push-to-talk platform is slated to be based on Qualcomm's Qchat product, which has been under development as a joint effort between both Sprint Nextel and Qualcomm since January 2002.

Nextel has recently upgraded their network to support the WiDEN packet-data protocol. This has allowed an increase in data speeds of up to 90 kbit/s. Currently, the Motorola i850, i860, and i870 are the only phones to support WiDEN.

By 2010, Sprint Nextel plans to absorb the Nextel brand into the Sprint PCS brand. According to earlier documentation filed sometime earlier by Sprint, the iDEN-based network was originally to be sold. [9]

In addition to the US market, Nextel has licensed its identity to NII Holdings, a holding company of which Sprint Nextel owns 18%. They have used the Nextel brand to set -up networks in many Latin America|Latin American countries.

Boost MobileEdit

The pre-paid / Pay-As-You-Go mobile services arm of Sprint Nextel (in the United States) are under the brand name Boost Mobile. Boost Mobile and its cell phones use the same iDEN mobile technology used by Nextel Communictions. The phones include the famous Nextel Walkie-talkie service known as 'Chirp'(tm)or "bleep, bleep" on Boost and Boost Mobile members may walkie-talkie to Sprint's former Nextel phone customers seamlessly. According to, Sprint COO Len Lauer said that the carrier will make changes to halt the growth of its youth-focused MVNO Boost. Boost is outpacing Sprint growth, and is getting large enough that it will soon put a strain on Sprint's iDEN network. The iDEN network is already under pressure because Sprint was asked to give up a portion of its iDEN spectrum to the FCC in order to create clear public safety bands. The growing population of Boost users are straining the shrunken network even further, and Sprint would prefer that the limited capacity was used to serve Nextel customers, who typically pay more per month to use iDEN handsets. Sprint has not detailed how they will curtail Boost's growth, however Sprint previously announced another initiative that should thin out Nextel's crowded 800 MHz spectrum. The carrier intends to launch dual mode handsets that use CDMA for voice and data calls, and only relies on iDEN for Push To Talk. Sprint's first dual mode handset, the ic502, has already been cleared by the FCC.

Nextel phonesEdit

Nextel has been known in the past for not offering a very diverse selection of mobile phones. This is especially true when related to its selection of alternate mobile phone manufacturers, as Motorola has seldom licensed its iDEN technology out to other handset vendors. All phones on Sprint Nextel's iDEN network thus far has been manufactured solely by Motorola, except for a few specialized devices sold by vendors such as Research In Motion (RIM), which has and continues to offer for sale versions of its BlackBerry PDA-style device.

Nextel InternationalEdit

Nextel International was founded in 1996 as a subsidiary of Nextel to operate as a holding company for both mobile service and network infrastructure in foreign countries. It initially operated in Latin America and the Philippines. In 2001, Nextel International declared bankruptcy and re-emerged as NII Holdings, Inc. Following Sprint's purchase of Nextel, Nextel sold off its investment in NII; however, NII still markets under the Nextel brand name. NII currently operates in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Peru.

Nextel U.S. operations interfere with police and fire radiosEdit

Nextel's systems in U.S. cities have been linked to significant interference problems affecting municipal government trunked and conventional 800 MHz two-way radio systems. These problems are costly to address and technically difficult to resolve.

Federal Communications Commission precedent calls for the party causing interference to solve the problem. The interference stems from Nextel's buy-out of private analog FM two-way radio systems. To expand capacity of their digital iDEN systems the company purchased private commercial two-way systems from small companies in cities nationwide. After purchase the analog equipment was removed and replaced with Nextel's digital trunked system transmitters or "EBTS." In some cases these new transmitters were configured in ways that caused interference to existing systems–including police and fire systems. This interference is difficult to filter out because the original spectrum plan for the 800 MHz band interleaved business, public safety, and commercial mobile radio systems on adjacent channels.

To resolve these problems, Nextel and the Federal Communications Commission developed a plan, approved by the FCC in August of 2004 [1] to relocate systems on certain 800 MHz frequencies to elsewhere in the 800 MHz band in order to reduce the potential for interference. Specifically, systems on the 806-809/851-854 MHz band will initially swap with Nextel frequencies in the 809-814/854-859 MHz band, leaving Nextel the only user in 806-809/851-854 MHz. Then the Nextel use of the 806-809/851-854 MHz band will be swapped with the national public safety use of the 821-824/866-869 MHz band, leaving Nextel with contiguous spectrum in 817-824/862-869 MHz and the business and public safety users in contiguous spectrum at 806-817/851-862 MHz. The use of contiguous spectrum allows for simple filters to be installed to protect the public safety radio systems from interference, which is currently impossible under the existing channelization of the 800 MHz band. Nextel is paying for much of the cost of this reconfiguration, but in compensation for "lost" 800 MHz spectrum is receiving spectrum in the 2 GHz band at 1910-1915/1990-1995 MHz. The 2 GHz spectrum is near the existing Sprint PCS allocations and can be used to expand the number of channels available for that service, without needing to bid for that additional capacity in a spectrum auction.[10][11][12][13]

Forced acquisitions and settlementsEdit

Prior to the merger, the Sprint Corporation and Nextel Communications were dependent on a network of affiliated companies. Following the announcement of the merger agreement, some of these affiliates came forward with a strong opposition to the Sprint Nextel merger on the grounds that the merged company may violate existing agreements or significantly undercut earnings to these affiliates. In order for Sprint Nextel to allay some of this opposition by affiliates, they were forced to initiate discussions of either acquiring some of these affiliates or renegotiate existing agreements. In several cases the newly formed company was forced to acquire affiliated companies in exchange for them dropping their opposition of the merger. Forsee has said that the company would likely have to acquire all of its remaining affiliates.[14]

Below are some of those companies which Sprint Nextel has agreed to acquire:

  • August 12, 2005: Sprint acquires the Sprint PCS affiliate US Unwired for $1.3B. Thus adding some 500,000 additional direct customers to the Sprint Nextel company. [15]
  • August 30, 2005: Sprint Nextel announces the intention to acquire IWO Holdings, Inc. a mainly New England-based network affiliate for the Sprint PCS business. (This acquisition closed on October 20, 2005.)
  • Another acquisition forced by Gulf Coast Wireless, added an additional 95,000 customers mainly in Louisiana and Mississippi to Sprint Nextel's CDMA network. (With that closing on October 3, 2005).
  • November 21, 2005: Sprint Nextel announces a $4.3B. acquisition agreement for Texas-based Sprint PCS affiliate Alamosa Holdings. Potentially adding an additional 1.48 million customers to Sprint Nextel.[16]
  • December 16, 2005: Sprint Nextel announces a $98 million agreement to acquire Enterprise Communications of Columbus, Georgia], thus adding over 52,000 customers to the company's PCS Wireless division. Sprint Nextel Acquires Enterprise Communications on January 31, 2006[17]
  • December 16, 2005: Sprint Nextel announces acquisition of non-affiliate Velocita Wireless. The transaction will enhance the iDEN network's 900 MHz spectrum position. [18][19]
  • December 21, 2005: Sprint Nextel Corporation and Nextel Partners, Inc. [20] finally reach an agreement for a $6.5B deal where the Sprint Nextel Corporation will acquire the largest of Nextel's affiliates to end Nextel Partners' opposition to any changes by Sprint in relation to the NEXTEL merger. [21] Once completed the Nextel Partners deal will add more than 2 million customers directly to the Sprint Nextel company.[22]
  • April 20, 2006: Sprint Nextel Corporation and Ubiquitelpcs Corporation have reached an agreement where the Sprint Nextel Corporation will acquire Ubiquitelpcs, an exclusive Sprint PCS provider.[23]

Major sponsorshipsEdit

Sprint Nextel is the major title sponsor of NASCAR’s top racing series, called the NEXTEL Cup. It had been believed that that the Sprint/Nextel merger would result in a name change for the 2007 season, but no name change will take place until at least 2008. [2]

  • Sprint Nextel is the official wireless sponsor of the United States' National Football League.
  • Sprint Nextel also holds naming rights to the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Sprint Nextel is one of the corporate sponsors of the Las Vegas Monorail. Wireless customers are able to purchase tickets for the Las Vegas Monorail right from their wireless phones under a system known as Mobile Ticketing.[3]

Sprint Nextel CompetitorsEdit

Wireless (in order of customer totals)Edit

Long-Haul Network (Global IP)Edit


Sprint ReferencesEdit

In the computer game Space Quest V by Sierra, the Sprint logo is shown at the end of communications from other ships. It is also featured on a billboard in the Space Bar and is included in the game's ending credits.



  10. State of Virginia PowerPoint presentation
  11. Luna, Lynette, "Nextel interference debate rages on," Mobile Radio Technology, 1 August 2003.
  12. Davidson, Paul, "Plan to clear the air for police radios hits a snag," U.S.A. Today, 16 June 2003.
  13. Contra Costa County Public Safety Mobile Radio Master Plan, Federal Engineering, Inc., June 18, 2002.
  14. Carew, Sinead. "Sprint likely to buy remaining affiliates-CEO", Reuters (June 27, 2006).
  16. (Sprint Nextel Completes Acquisition of Wireless Affiliate Alamosa Holdings on February 1, 2006)
  19. Sprint Nextel Completes Acquisition of Velocita Wireless on February 28, 2006)
  22. Sprint Nextel Completes Acquisition of Nextel Partners on June 26, 2006)
  23. (Sprint Nextel Completes Acquisition of Ubiquitel on July 7, 2006)

External linksEdit

Official sitesEdit

Articles and mediaEdit