Sprint Raising Rates On Nextel Customers At Same Time As It Shuts Down Nextel Network

Sprint’s letter to Dan. Scroll down for full-size version.

It’s been seven years since Sprint merged with Nextel, and there are still millions of customers who continue to use the old Nextel network. With that network’s June 13, 2013 execution date looming on the horizon, Sprint is now jacking up the rates for existing customers in an apparent effort to get them to switch.

Consumerist reader and Nextel user Eric recently received a letter from Sprint that reads, in part:

This letter is to inform you that effective January 1, 2013, the monthly price plan(s) for each of your Nextel and PowerSource lines of service will increase by $10 per month… You can upgrade your Nextel and PowerSource devices now and move over to the Sprint Nationwide Network, which as three times more coverage than the Nextel National Network.

Increased pricing for all Nextel and PowerSource devices will be in place until the Nextel National Network is shut down. Depending on your billing cycle, you may see prorated charges beginning with your January 2013 invoice.

Eric admits that he’s procrastinated on upgrading to the Sprint network or moving to another carrier because the Nextel service was still providing adequate coverage in the areas he travels within.

But as he points out, Sprint has already begun pulling down some of the old 2G iDEN network to repurpose it for use by the company’s 3G and 4G networks. “This is, effectively, the new Nextel “Pay more for less” plan,” he writes.

“If this price increase is an effort to reduce loading on the Nextel network it’s been completely successful,” Eric tells Consumerist. “I will be porting my current number to another carrier (which will now definitely NOT be Sprint) before the January 1 price increase takes effect. My wife is already shopping to purchase a new phone for Christmas.”

In October, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse had a lot of explaining to do when his company lost 459,000 contract subscribers during the previous quarter. Hesse said those losses, much of which he chalks up to fleeing Nextel customers, “have been expected. It’s by design.”

Hesse said about 40% of customers who have been moved off the old Nextel network have taken their business elsewhere.

Here is the full letter that was sent to Dan: