World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Nextel Communications

Nextel Communications, Inc.
Industry Wireless Communications
Fate Merged with Sprint Corporation
Predecessor FleetCall
Successor Sprint Nextel Corporation, NII Holdings
Founded 1987 (1987) as FleetCall
August 12, 2005 (2005-08-12)
Headquarters Reston, Virginia, United States
Area served
United States
Key people
Morgan O'Brien, Chairman (1987–1995), Vice-Chairman (1995–2005)
Revenue Increase US$ 13.368 billion (2004)
Increase US$ 3.283 billion (2004)
Increase US$ 3.000 billion (2004)
Total assets Increase US$ 22.744 billion (2004)
Total equity Increase US$ 9.408 billion (2004)
Number of employees
19,000 (2005)
Website .comnextel
Footnotes / references

Nextel Communications, Inc. was a wireless service operator that merged with and continues to exist as a wholly owned subsidiary of Sprint Corporation. Nextel mobile communications in countries like Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico, are part of NII Holdings, a stand-alone, publicly traded company that is not owned by Sprint Corporation.

Nextel Communications traces its roots to the 1987 foundation of FleetCall by Brian McAuley, Chris Rogers, and Peter Reinheimer. FleetCall changed its name to Nextel Communications, Inc. in 1993. Nextel provided digital, wireless communications services, originally focusing on fleet and dispatch customers, but later marketed to all potential wireless customers. Nextel's network operated in the 800 MHz Specialized Mobile Radio band and used iDEN technology developed by Motorola. Nextel's iDen network offered a then unique push-to-talk "walkie-talkie" feature in addition to direct dialed voice calls. Nextel was one of the first providers in the United States to offer a national digital cellular coverage footprint.

Prior to merging with Sprint Corporation in 2005, Nextel Communications, Inc. was a publicly traded company. Shares traded on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol NXTL. Nextel was headquartered in Reston, Virginia, United States.[2]

At the time of its 2005 merger with Sprint Corp., Nextel had over twenty million subscribers in the United States, and served 198 of the top 200 markets. Nextel Communications, Inc. offered post paid services under the Nextel brand and prepaid services under the Boost Mobile brand.

In late 2010, Sprint Nextel announced plans to decommission the Nextel iDEN network; on May 30, 2012, Sprint Nextel announced that it would shut down the Nextel network as early as June 2013.[3] The Nextel network was officially shut down at 12:01am on June 30, 2013 and Sprint is currently deploying LTE equipment on the 800 MHz spectrum formerly used by the iDEN network.

Sprint Corporation continues to offer pre-paid services under the Boost Mobile brand and also offers push-to-talk services as Sprint Direct Connect using CDMA equipment.


  • History 1
  • Innovations and technologies 2
    • iDEN 2.1
    • Push to talk 2.2
    • WiDEN 2.3
  • Merger with Sprint 3
  • Radio interference 4
  • Major sponsorships 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Telecommunication lawyers Brian McAuley and Peter Reinheimer founded FleetCall in 1987.[4] FleetCall changed its name to Nextel Communications in 1993. In 1995, wireless industry pioneer Craig McCaw became a significant investor in the company. Other early investors include Mark Warner, now a United States Senator from Virginia, and Jack Markell, the current Governor of Delaware.

The founders choose the name "FleetCall" because the company's network used the 800 MHz Specialized Mobile Radio frequencies designated by the Federal Communications Commission for use in fleet dispatch. The core of the business model was to buy these fleet dispatch frequencies from existing operators at a substantial discount when compared to the cost for equivalent bandwidth available via auction from the Federal Communications Commission. These "non-cellular" frequencies were made usable for a consumer and business wireless voice telephone service with the iDEN technology developed by Motorola, which some observers at the time said would not be practical. Initially, FleetCall did not want to include the push to talk feature in their phones, but the FCC required it as the initial frequencies were licensed for dispatch use. Later, Nextel would use the push-to-talk feature as a key marketing advantage.

Innovations and technologies

Nextel affected the cellular phone market in several ways. It was the first company to successfully provide unlimited calling plans to a large customer base. Nextel was the first company to implement a nationwide push-to-talk system similar to a walkie-talkie, marketed as DirectConnect. Unlike other cellular networks, the Nextel network operated in the Specialized Mobile Radio band, and Nextel was one of the first providers in the United States to offer a national digital cellular coverage footprint. The company was the first in the United States to integrate global positioning system features into their phones and to complete their 2G network upgrade.

Nextel was also an industry leader in average revenue per user, and customer lifetime value.


Nextel had long worked closely with a single vendor, Motorola, on both equipment and standards. The close relationship had yielded the Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (iDEN) protocol, which uses a time division multiple access technology. Some of the special features the company utilized included its push-to-talk feature, which simulated the half-duplex operation of a two-way radio. Nextel was one of the few carriers to have adopted iDEN around the world, although the technology has gained traction through NII Holdings in Latin American countries. iDEN is also utilized in the Southeast of the United States by SouthernLINC Wireless and in Canada by Telus Mobility under the Mike Mobile brand.

Push to talk

Nextel gained a significant marketing and technological advantage through its push-to-talk technology. In 2003, Verizon Wireless and Sprint PCS each launched push-to-talk features, with Cingular following in 2005; none have gained significant traction. Nextel and Verizon had entered a legal battle in June 2003 over Verizon's advertising for their push-to-talk feature. The companies reached a settlement in early 2004. Initial advertising for Verizon's service was heavy, but it became almost nonexistent fairly quickly, possibly due to poor reviews of the service.

The push-to-talk feature, with which Nextel has gained popularity, was made interoperable with the QChat technology on the Sprint network in 2008. Sprint had originally launched its own push-to-talk service, known as ReadyLink, which is based on SIP. Due to the difference in technology, users of the ReadyLink service were never able to make or receive push-to-talk calls with users of the iDEN technology. By 2009, Sprint began phasing out QChat to again focus on marketing iDEN devices.

Nextel also offers a feature on some of their phones, marketed as DirectTalk. The technology uses the 900 MHz ISM band and provides ten FHSS channels for off network push to talk communications between individual phones that are not necessarily in range of wireless towers.


In 2003, prior to its merger with Sprint, Nextel had announced plans for its next generation 3G network. It was reportedly to use an extension to iDEN called WiDEN, developed by Motorola. Nextel upgraded their network to support the WiDEN packet data protocol, increasing data speeds up to 90 kbit/s. The Motorola i850, i860, i870, and i880 were the only phones to support WiDEN without modification. In October 2005, in order to free up network capacity for cellular calls due to rebanding, Sprint removed the ability to connect to the WiDEN service from all Nextel towers.

Merger with Sprint

The Nextel word mark used during the 1990s.

Following the completion of the Sprint-Nextel merger on August 12, 2005, future plans for Nextel included migrating customers to Sprint's CDMA network.

Radio interference

Nextel towers in the United States have caused radio interference with commercial and public safety trunked and conventional 800 MHz two-way radio systems. To resolve the problems, Nextel and the Federal Communications Commission developed a plan, approved by the FCC in August 2004, to relocate Nextel systems elsewhere in the 800 MHz band in order to reduce the potential for interference.[5]

Before rebanding, Public Safety, Business/Industrial, SMR and ESMR's both operate in the 851-861 MHz range. ESMR has exclusive use of the 861-866 MHz range, and Public Safety has exclusive use of the 866-869 MHz range.

During rebanding the following will occur:

- All licensees with channels between 866-869 MHz (NPSPAC) must relocate to equivalent channels between 851-854.

- All licensees other than ESMRs with channels between 851-854 MHz must relocate to equivalent channels between 854-862.

- Nextel and other ESMR operators must relinquish all channels below 862 MHz. The FCC has required Nextel to vacate all its channels in the band from 854-854.5 nationwide as soon as possible to provide additional spectrum for Public Safety needs.

- Public Safety has exclusive access to all vacated Nextel channels for 3 years, after which they are open to all eligible users.

After rebanding, Public Safety and Critical Infrastructure will have exclusive use of 851-854 MHz. ESMR systems (primarily Nextel) will have exclusive use of 862-869 MHz range, and public safety, business/industrial users, and low-power SMR's will share the 854-862 MHz spectrum. 860-861 MHz is designated as an "Expansion Band", and 861-862 MHz is designated as a "Guard Band". No licensees other than ESMR are required to relocate to channels above 860 MHz.

The use of contiguous spectrum allows for simple filters to be installed to protect public safety radio systems from interference, which is currently impossible under the existing mixed allocations in the 800 MHz band.

Nextel (Sprint) is paying for much of the cost of this reconfiguration, but in compensation for lost 800 MHz spectrum, the company is receiving spectrum in the 2 GHz band at 1910–1915/1990–1995 MHz. This 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 additional capacity in a spectrum auction.[6][7][8]

Major sponsorships

In 2003, Nextel and NASCAR announced a sponsorship agreement to rename NASCAR's top racing series to the Nextel Cup Series beginning in 2004. In 2008, the series was renamed the Sprint Cup Series due to Sprint Nextel's plan to phase out the Nextel brand name. Nextel was also a major sponsor of the now defunct ChampCar team PacWest Racing, which was owned by Craig McCaw's brother Bruce.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^

External links

  • Nextel website (Archive)
  • Official Sprint website
  • Yahoo! - Nextel Communications, Inc. Company Profile
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.