SouthernLinc: We're committed to iDEN network through 2020

SouthernLinc, a smaller wireless carrier that provides service in parts of Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi, said it has committed to maintaining its iDEN network through at least 2020. The company said it made the commitment in order to assure its customers--which include public safety workers, utilities workers and others--that they will continue to be able to use their SouthernLinc service in the years ahead.

"We are committed to the iDEN technology," SouthernLinc spokeswoman Lynda Swaney told FierceWireless. "We have no intention as a company of walking away from iDEN."

Swaney said that SouthernLinc continues to receive iDEN support from Motorola Solutions and Motorola Mobility.

Indeed, SouthernLinc announced that its push-to-talk services contract with the Georgia Technology Authority has been renewed through 2017. The agreement paves the way for state agencies in Georgie to purchase PTT service through SouthernLinc.

SouthernLinc's position on iDEN is noteworthy considering the carrier is the last remaining iDEN network provider in the United States, following Sprint's shuttering of its iDEN network last year.

Nextel offered nationwide wireless service primarily to business customers via its iDEN network, supplied by Motorola, until Sprint purchased Nextel in 2004. SouthernLinc offered nationwide iDEN service via a roaming agreement with Nextel and then Sprint. When Sprint shut off its iDEN network, SouthernLinc continued to offer nationwide calling service via a dual-SIM Motorola phone, the XT626. The phone supports SouthernLinc's iDEN SIMs as well as GSM SIMs; SouthernLinc partners with MVNE Prepaid Wireless Wholesale to offer GSM service. However, Swaney said that SouthernLinc doesn't sell GSM service itself and subscribers with the phone must obtain their own GSM service.

Swaney said SouthernLinc plans to offer a second dual-SIM phone from Motorola sometime in August.

"Those are for the people who need nationwide calling and want access to nationwide high-speed data where it's available," she said.

SouthernLinc, however, does have plans to advance its wireless network. The carrier in 2013 announced that it inked a deal with Ericsson and Cisco to build an LTE network starting in 2015, to be completed in 2018. Swaney said that SouthernLinc remains on track with its LTE plans, and that it will first launch data services on LTE and then will add voice capabilities after that.

SouthernLinc will use 800 MHz Band 26 for both iDEN and LTE.

Swaney said SouthernLinc operates 857 iDEN towers and counts 135,000 subscribers--the carrier's subscriber base has declined from the 150,000 customers it counted in March 2013.

For more:
- see this SouthernLinc release

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