TELUS has no plans to shut down iDEN network in light of Sprint’s announcement

Daniel Bader

May 30, 2012 11:37am

Sprint, the third-largest carrier in the US, announced that it will shut down its 2G iDEN network on or around June 30th 2013, obsoleting its push-to-talk network. TELUS currently runs a similar network and has a roaming agreement with the carrier that could be affected if the company closes down cell sites around the country.

iDEN was developed by Motorola and is a much older technology than what we currently use now; it operates on much narrower frequencies than current HSPA and LTE networks. It was initially developed to connect devices quickly using compressed audio, which leant itself perfectly to push-to-talk functionality.

TELUS operates its Mike network for a shrinking number of legacy business devices, but its push-to-talk feature is still widely used in certain markets. Its last launch was nearly a year ago, the Motorola i420, and there were some awesomely hardy devices like the Motorola Brute for which we did an amazing video testing its strength.

Jim Senko, vice-president of Small and Medium Business Marketing at TELUS, sent us this statement in response to Sprint’s announcement:

Today’s Sprint announcement is as expected and we have received a 12 month notice to this effect from Sprint-Nextel.  The Sprint iDEN turndown has no impact on the vast majority of our Mike base, and we are confident that our U.S. and international roaming capabilities on HSPA/LTE offer a great alternative for clients for whom roaming is an important business need.

TELUS currently has no plans to turn down our own iDEN network, but will evolve from the Sprint-Nextel iDEN partnership to launch a Push to Talk solution on LTE well before any shutdown of Mike.  TELUS is focused on developing LTE as a high speed data network with built-in Quality of Service and low latency perfectly suited for Push to Talk over IP, rather than launching interim solutions currently available on HSPA.

TELUS will likely come out with a PTT system similar to Bell, as has been rumoured for some time. But instead of doing it over existing HSPA networks they will wait until there is a sufficiently-large national rollout of LTE and base it on the low-latency 4G technology. Very smart.



    They have no plan.. Because this was just announced today.
    Give them a few months to figure it out and they come up with a plan.

    You can’t have and support CDMA iDEN,HSPA, LTE networks 9same thing) AND still make a profit. They are at a disadgantage when competing with operators that only have one network.

    • AJS

      TELUS has proved that you can have and support CDMA iDEN, HSPA, LTE and still make a profit. Did you see their last Quarterly Report. They are doing better than Rogers and Bell.

  • Scazzz

    The license for it is separated enough that they could continue to run it in Canada only, but at some point they will have to do what Bell did and get their own PPT service or find a way to partner with them (they do already for so many other things…)

  • Iden is legacy

    TELUS is not in a bandwidth/frequency crunch as Sprint is. Sprint is refarming IDEN 850 to HSPA+ or LTE.

    Telus has the “luxury” to wait on refarming. IDEN will be salvaged. No new phones likely. Enjoy IDEN for now and worry about upgrading in 2013/2014

  • Rebellion

    Telus has known about this for over a year now, as a Sprint and Telus corporate customer I can tell you this will not work well for them.

    Sprint has already activated their CDMA PTT software and network via Kyocera handsets. They are backwards compatible with the iDEN PTT units in terms of communication. Even if Telus went, like Bell, with LTE there would be no way for customers to PTT to the Nextel counterparts and coverage would be very sketchy for quite some time in the US if they did get software that intercommunicated.

    Sprint’s idea is actually quite smart. The CDMA network is paid for and will be there for however long they want. The coverage is huge so why not move the PTT people over to it. Canada still has it’s CDMA network but nothing is happening to it that I am aware of.

    Foolish personally.

  • Chris

    TELUS is being really smart about this. Why would clients move to an HSPA PTT solution today when everyone will just have to move again to LTE in a year and a half? LTE is being built for voice over data so it makes sense to wait.

    Sprint has a much bigger problem. They are out of spectrum and want to reapportion it to higher revenue data users.

    There are so many roaming options out there that if someone needs it they can just switch from iDEN to either HSPA or LTE.

  • Accophox

    iDEN does need to die though. The spectrum would be better utilized in an LTE deployment with PTT services over it. In the meantime, Telus should just move PTT over to HSPA.

  • Bill Cool

    So this tells me:
    * Telus doesn’t think much of HSPA+, though it is their major network for some time to come and I assume most of their customers are now on it
    * Bell recently launched PTT on HSPA+ as we all know. Now that everyone also now knows for sure that iDEN is “dead technology walking” you can assume Bell will pick up iDEN users looking for a PTT standard with a future… or even just US roaming
    * Because Bell will also add PTT on LTE when ready (LTE is basically HSPA+ with a data upgrade), they will be established ahead of Telus and will by then have lifted many customers ready to jump from iDEN
    * Telus won’t ever be ahead of Bell on LTE deployment because the network is shared between the two companies
    * So what you are looking at is the gradual decline of iDEN, with anyone moving off it moving to Bell, because Telus has no alterative. When the time comes to move to LTE, will most of them then upgrade with Bell or make the jump back to Telus? Answer seems obvious, especially with Bell actually offering a product and Telus at this point offering only a promise.
    * The only thing I don’t get is why all this is considered “very smart” of Telus!

  • Chris

    None of this suggests that TELUS doesn’t think much about HSPA+, but does suggest that without QoS they don’t consider HSPA to be a better PTT solution than iDEN. Better for web surfing sure, for roaming yes, but for PTT no.

    We all know that urban centres feel the brunt of HSPA data congestion, slowdowns and so on so is it ok that a PTT solution might not work when you need it?

    PTT over LTE is coming and neither Bell nor TELUS will be ahead as they’re sharing networks and solutions like Kodiak are widely available. What doesn’t sound “smart” or even financially sound is switching a client onto an unproven solution and pricey HSPA device today, then asking to the switch again in 18 months? Is that friendly? Who pays for that? Sounds to me like early adopters might get burned here.

  • Bill Cool

    As you can maybe tell, I am a PTT user and here’s what it comes down to for me…

    * You say that “solutons like Kodiak are widely available.” But that’s not true… Bell is making clear out there that they have an exclusive lock on Kodiak in Canada… and I can’t find another HSPA+ or LTE solution. CDMA yes (but also doomed technology) and apps that are PTT-like but not the real thing. So not clear what Telus is going to do – that’s a promise not a product

    * Is US roaming important? To me it is of great importance. With Sprint shutting down iDEN, Telus won’t have it. But Bell does, with AT&T I believe, so…

    * If iDEN wasn’t dying, if there was no other option, I might agree with you that it’s not worth switching until Telus decides what it’s going to do. But it is dying… handsets will peter out especially with no Sprint, roanming shuts down, third-party support vanishes… a classic case of a product at end of lifespan.

    * By your logic, every person on HSPA+ PTT would switch to LTE when it is available, perhaps in 18 months as you say, a reason for Telus not to take this route… But why would that happen to PTT users if it’s not happening to all Telus (and Bell) customers on HSPA+ If Telus and Bell will continue to have both HSPA+ and LTE customers, why the forced switch just for PTT? And if they do plan to switch all customers from HSPA+ to LTE, then it’s not just PTT people affected, it’s everyone.

    It would be better and easier if Telus had a non-iDEN PTT solution now for customers. They don’t, so Bell is the only option if you need US roaming, new handsets and a product with a life. As someone who actually works with PTT, I can tell you that’s just how it is.

  • Marorun

    Thats is quite a joke.
    Been using PTT apps on Android phone since what 1 years and its run perfectly well.
    No need to go to crappy bell and get the worst client support ever.