TELUS Not Planning to Turn Off Aging iDEN Network

If you’re reading this post, chances are you should have some recollection of what the title refers to.

Remember back in the day, around the same time PCS was making its way into the cellular market, the craze was push-to-talk communication? You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing one protrude from the hip of a belt. Those fat, Motorola “i” series phones, that had a never-ending battery, didn’t drop calls, and could take more than just your average beating – yup, incase you’re wondering, they’re still around to this day, giving the old “beep beep” notification on a construction site near you.

Well, as our phones have evolved, so has the network that powers them. iDEN, the network that the aforementioned phones run on,  operates on much narrower frequencies than current HSPA and LTE networks. It was initially developed to connect devices quickly using compressed audio, which worked seamlessly for the push-to-talk functionality and TELUS has kept this network (marketed as the Mike Network) running for an ever-fading number of business users.

News this week came from TELUS’ iDEN partner in the United States Sprint – whom they have a roaming agreement with – that they (Sprint) would be shutting down their 2G iDEN network on or around June 30, 2013, thus discontinuing their push-to-talk network. 

So what does this mean for existing TELUS users rocking the old push-to-talk bad boys?

Jim Senko, Vice-President of Small and Medium Business Marketing at TELUS sent the following letter over to our friends over a MobileSyrup:

“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.”

In all likelihood, TELUS will follow Bell’s lead and implement push-to-talk over their much stronger LTE network as it expands. Nothing as of yet is confirmed, but this lends some reassurance to many a union worker to rely on the service for their day-to-day needs. 

Are you still using an iDEN phone? If so, what’s the reason why you haven’t switched yet? Leave your comments below.