Sprint finally has firm plans in place to shut down its unsuccessful WiMAX network by the end of 2015, which will involve turning off at least 6000 cell sites.
When Sprint finished its acquisition of Clearwire last summer, WiMAX had already been deployed on around 17,000 cell sites, and Sprint was in the process of putting LTE on about 5000 of these site. Sprint says that work is now complete, although it plans to expand its LTE footprint to around 5000 more legacy Clearwire sites as it expands its Spark LTE network footprint. Sprint says it plans to cover 100 million people with Spark by the end of this year, and an additional 100 million by the end of 2016.
The 6000 cell sites that Sprint plans to shut down completely are redundant sites, and will cost the company between $50-100 million to complete.
Sprint reminds customers that it reserves the right to migrate its customers from WiMAX to LTE as it shuts down the network. Impacted customers will have several options:
- Finish their contracts without WiMAX service.
- Cancel their service without paying an ETF.
- Transition to Sprint’s LTE network and receive a free standard Sprint LTE-capable device. Customers who choose the latter option can keep their existing plan, “if available.” This option does include a new two-year contract.