After failing to find a buyer for its Nextel network, Sprint Nextel said Thursday it will keep the Nextel iDEN network.
Sprint has steadily been losing customers on the old Nextel Network since the acquisition in 2005. And earlier this year the wireless operator said it was looking to sell the network.
The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed sources who said that several parties had been interested in buying the network, including a few private equity firms . But the current credit crisis made it difficult for them to get the funds to close the transaction. Sprint was supposedly hoping to get more than $5.4 billion for the Nextel assets, which is the dollar amount of Nextel's debt.
Sprint originally bought Nextel Communications for $35 billion.
Sprint has struggled with the Nextel merger from the start. The companies use different technologies. Sprint's network uses CDMA, while Nextel's network was built on a technology called iDEN. And integrating the systems has proven to be a huge challenge. Many of the customers that Sprint has lost over the past couple of years were former Nextel customers who complained of poor service.
That said, Sprint has spent a lot of time and money integrating the back end systems of the two networks. And even though this integration has not always gone smooth, much of the heavy lifting has already been done.
As a result, Sprint has decided to keep the network and make the best of Nextel's walkie talkie feature. In fact, Sprint's CEO Dan Hesse said in a statement that he sees Nextel's walkie-talkie technology as a differentiator for the company. Next week the company has plans to announce a new handset from Motorola. Sprint Nextel also plans to offer eight new walkie-talkie phones for the Nextel network next year.