Attention Nextel Customers: You Are Now Using Plain Old Sprint

Sprint’s new ad campaign has dropped the “Nextel” name and will be focusing on a new slogan “Sprint Ahead.”

Sprint will also be dropping Nextel from its super-successful NASCAR sponsorship—the Nextel cup will now be The NASCAR Sprint Cup, according to the Washington Post.

New television commercials, online ads, billboards and movie theater ads will roll out Sunday at a critical time for the company. In addition to trying to improve the reputation of its network, Sprint is attempting to stave off competition from AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which have benefited from Sprint’s steady loss of customers.

What do you guys think? Why has Sprint been losing customers? Is it because Nextel is lame and uncool? Will rebranding help?

Sprint Ad Campaign Leaves Nextel’s Name in the Dust [Washington Post]
(Photo: Maulleigh)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Finder says:

    The entire Nextel network is going to be shut down in the next couple years, why spend money on advertising? The sole reason Sprint purchased them was for their Push-To-Talk technology (which is really quite cool when you think about it). Now that they have that there is no reason to support two architecturally different networks. I had a Nextel phone for work that was recently replaced with a Blackberry from AT&T, for which I am thankful. Over the last year I experienced nothing but headaches when using the Nextel. Problems included delayed receiving of voicemails, missing text messages, dropped calls, random signal outages; it was horrible to use all-around.

    The writing is on the wall: decline in service quality, no new phone hardware and their existing line of phones has long been stagnant.

    So long Nextel.

  2. dbeahn says:

    In SW Florida, the reason Sprint loses customers is simple – their network sucks. Seriously, the Metro PCS Network here is way better. Everyone I know that had Sprint either has, or will be, switching to, well, anyone but Sprint.

    Now, if Sprint could get some towers up so they’d have some coverage and some actual SIGNAL in their “coverage area” they might have a chance.

  3. Nytmare says:

    But not nearly so cool when you have to experience other people using it in offices and restaurants.

    I thought Sprint became known as Embarq? At least it did for land lines locally. I’m so confused.

  4. tcp100 says:

    I was a sprint PCS customer for 11 years; actually before they were publicly available, I tested their service when I was working as an intern for a comms company.

    I finally dropped them because I got sick and tired of their atrocious customer service and their developing focus on things like ringtones and crap over actually improving service.
    The moment of truth came late last year when I walked into a sprint store in Reston, VA, and nobody I talked to -knew what bluetooth was-.

  5. tcp100 says:

    Sprint’s local telephone service was sold to Embarq. Sprint PCS is a separate endeavor; actually, they used to be separate stock symbols.

    The old Sprint from the AT&T divestiture had long distance service at first, then local, and even along the way had a wireless service in the DC area called Sprint Spectrum, which was actually GSM. They eventually bought some PCS licenses, started Sprint PCS in 1997 or so. Soon after they sold off their local service to Embarq, rolled Sprint Spectrum into Sprint PCS, went almost solely wireless-oriented, and bought Nextel. Thus where we are today.

  6. musette says:

    I have been a sprint customer since their debut.

    Overall, I have been happy with the product and their customer service is not suckier than any of the others. I rarely drop calls no matter where I am. Actually, aside from talking in an elevator, I can’t remember the last time I dropped a call here, or anywhere I travel for business.

    My problem with Sprint is that they don’t offer particularly interesting phones.

    Still, the quality of their coverage and the speed of the data network is enough to keep me around and away from the iPhone.

  7. Coder4Life says:

    Worst customer service ever!!!

    I called to see where my $228 refund check was, which should of showed up 2 months ago. They said they declined the refund. UHH.. DID YOU EVER BOTHER CALLING ME TO LET ME KNOW THAT…

    Then they said they can’t send me a refund check.. But finally they agreed once I told them the EXECUTIVE TEAM refunded. soon as she heard EXECUTIVE, she immediately went to a manager and refunded my money.

    Only took 4 days to get the check as well.. :)

  8. yajjo says:

    Long story…shortened. Sprint was my provider years ago until a billing screw up and atrocious customer service drove me away. I allowed them to debit $45 a month from my checking account (I know, don’t do that). One month Sprint deducted $450 and applied it to another individuals account. I dialed up customer service and requested my money back but was refused because the checking account deduction wasn’t credited to my Sprint account. I stopped paying which flagged my account to Sprint collections. I tried to explain the situation to every collector that called but to no avail. Eventually they shut my phone off even though they held 10 months worth of service in my money. The saga lasted five weeks until a threat to sue them for my money finally fell upon competent ears. They made no apologies and offered nothing for the troubles. My money just showed up one day without a word from Sprint. I swore off that provider for life. My job provides my phone for me now. Guess who my provider is. I ask karma daily what I did to deserve that.

  9. mike1731 says:

    Here’s my question — right now, if you buy a “Nextel” phone, it only works on one network, but if you buy a “Sprint” phone, it only works on another. Two networks, one company. Confusing. Add to it that they seem to have spotty service, very poor customer service including horrid wait times when calling with questions, and I don’t see a happy ending.

    I’ve had Sprint service since 2000, and the only thing holding us there is that we have several family members on the wife’s side that also have Sprint; we use the free mobile to mobile minutes to our advantage. But it’s getting to a point where it’d be easier to herd the inlaws all to Verizon than it is to keep battling Sprint and all their foibles.

    • daftact723 says:

      @mike1731: Nextel and Sprint used to be two totally different companies with two totally different technologies. Nextel uses a technology called iDEN which is NOT roaming capable, whereas CDMA (which Sprint and Verizon use) is roaming capable. GSM (which is the technology AT&T and T-Mobiles uses) is also roaming capable. Sprint bought out Nextel in order to take advantage of their Direct Connect. In retrospect, it cost Sprint more money obtaining and operating Nextel services than they made off of it. I would imagine that they are going to do away with Nextel in the near future because Sprint now has the direct connect available on their devices.

      The Nextel technology has been replicated, but never to be as good as the original. AT&T and Verizon have push to talk services that are LIKE Direct Connect, but they are not as good. Using Nextel’s Direct Connect, reaching another Nextel Direct Connect user within 2 seconds, whereas AT&T and Verizon PTT takes usually 7 – 10 seconds. There are other differences but that is one of the major ones. Yea, those extra 3 seconds don’t mean a lot, but its helpful.

  10. RoCJester says:

    I remember that I used to have Nextel before they merged. My parents wanted me to pay for my own plan when I had gotten married so I got Sprint. The phone service itself rocked. Dropped Sprint a year later because the service just started sucking. What they needed to do was keep the Nextel PTT and Sprint Phone svc. That’s a damn good phone. BTW I’m on Verizon now, Verizon sucks.

  11. ShadowFalls says:

    Here in West Florida, Sprint suffers from its pitiful network. MetroPCS offers a fine service with unlimited local and long distance for a reasonable price. The service is good and there is no contract. Sure it is only good while you are in-state, but most people don’t anyways. Only other catch is you have to buy a phone, but it is better and cheaper than fronting the cost of a contract.

    Rebranding has never done anything to help a company. Junk is junk, no matter the name you assign it.

  12. mac-phisto says:

    simple. quit dicking your customers around & you’ll stop losing them. i used to sell & activate sprint phones & i remember getting pretty red-faced & spending entirely too long on an activation more than once b/c of unhelpful csrs & an absolutely horrible phone system.

    the only cell phone experience i can categorize as worse than dealing with sprint customer solutions (or whatever b.s. name they have for it now), was trying to get a refund from tracfone for minutes that they literally stole off a friend’s phone. i kept getting transferred to the only department that could help me & it was perpetually closed. lovely.

  13. valthun says:

    So, because Sprint owns Nextel they can change their logo and branding on their cars, but AT&T can’t. Yeah thats not going to go down without a fight by AT&T who can’t get rid of their Cingular branding on their cars. I believe a judge will now side with Cingular on this one.

  14. Triteon says:

    @valthun: Yes, that’s exactly it. Sprint/Nextel owns the series’ naming rights and the Cingular car was grandfathered in as an existing sponsor, but no telcoms– name-changed or otherwise– can now become sponsors. AT&T new this when Nextel bought the rights.

  15. enm4r says:

    @valthun: Those were conditions when Nextel became the sponsor, the only reason the other mobile companies still have cars are because they were grandfathered in.

    But I agree, just change the Cingular car. You’re not adding a competitor, you’re just changing what’s there.

  16. Limecrete says:

    If this is the first step to finally ridding the world of those goddamn walkie-talkies, I will dance a jig of glee. Every time I have to endure someone *BLIP*-ing on and on, I want to stuff them into a sack and throw the sack into a river and hurl the river into space.

  17. levenhopper says:

    It doesn’t say they are changing their car, just the name of the championship. They mayend up not changing the car logo/colors, so they won’t have to fight with AT&T

  18. IC18 says:

    I had Nextel for years and it was great as it was the only phone I get descent coverage throughout my city. As soon as Sprint purchased Nextel and I started to notice the decay in service I hightailed it out of there and crossed the street to sign a contract with the other devil Verizon.

  19. mac-phisto says:

    @valthun: not necessarily. we’re talking about different contract provisions contained within a mountain of different contracts, so it’s questionable whether this would even be applicable to the at&t case. nextel’s sponsorship agreement would contain an assignment clause that would allow a new parent company to continue the agreement with nascar. at&t’s contract is most likely with a team, not nascar directly. & the team probably has a contract with nascar that expressly states that any contract entered into with a third party cannot violate provisions set forth by any agreement with nascar.

    somewhere buried deep in that paperwork is an official sponsor’s right of refusal. mind you, this is all supposition, but i know a bit about the horrors of contracts. imho, if at&t wants to run cars in nascar, they should have thought about ponying up the cash to be an official sponsor. it’s not like they’re new kids on the block when it comes to this stuff.

  20. roamer1 says:

    @dbeahn: Same here in Atlanta — even Metro is better than Sprint (CDMA at least…iDEN/”Nextel” is pretty good.) Around here, it’s all about GSM; AT&T has the best coverage by far (no surprise, since AT&T Mobility is HQ’d here), with T-Mobile not far behind; Verizon Wireless is decent but seems to go through bouts of overselling their network.

  21. roamer1 says:

    @tcp100: and way back before Sprint Spectrum/APC, Sprint owned analog cellular systems in various areas, most of which correspond to current Embarq landline areas (much of the Carolinas, Tallahassee, Harrisburg [Carlisle], etc.) Sprint spun off Sprint Cellular into 360° Communications, which was later bought by Alltel; Alltel later traded a few former Sprint/360° markets with Verizon Wireless.

  22. roamer1 says:

    and Sprint is going to differentiate the iDEN product *how*???

    @mike1731: and then there are the new PowerSource phones which use both networks — iDEN for PTT and CDMA for everything else.

    AIUI, the long-term plan is to migrate PTT to CDMA (with Boost first on the list), then either shut down the iDEN network or sell it to the Feds for a “first responder” network.

    IMO, the whole Sprint/Nextel situation is even worse than the messy Cingular/AT&T Wireless merger, since at least in the case of Cingular they didn’t try to muddy the waters by actively mixing technologies like Sprint has (unlike Sprint selling CDMA and iDEN at the same time, Cingular never really sold TDMA and GSM at the same time; AT&T Wireless did, but there wasn’t really anything aside from rural coverage one could get on TDMA that one couldn’t on GSM. Yes, there were the GAIT phones, too, but that was “GSM plus” more than anything else.)

  23. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    Oh do I agree.
    And I have to listen to those idiots on the bus sometimes!
    That push to talk thing is the worst thing for anyone else around.

  24. maevro says:

    Oh man, I hated Nextel even before they merged with Sprint. I really like AT&T and being in NYC, I am very happy with their UMTS & HSDPA data service.

    You know it is shady when they had Sprint stores & Nextel stores. Just combine the two and stop jerking people around.

  25. JohnDoe303 says:

    I dunno about SW Florida but all up and down the east coast from NY, to NC, to SE FL where I live Sprint service is SOLID.

    Not to mention I pay 49.99 before my 15% corp discount and have 1250 minutes, 7pm N&W, Unl data (EVDO), Unl txt, Unl pic-mail, Unl vid-mail, Unl m2m..

    Sprint has the fastest data network AND the best service plans.. Now with new hybrid phones like the ic902 you’ve got the best of everything in one phone.

  26. Trackback says:

    Nextel, Sprint’s sidekick brand, is dead. Whether it’s permanently out of commission, or merely imprisoned in a supervillain’s lair, isn’t yet clear, but forthcoming ads will replace the old post-merger construction with a simple “Sprint Ahead.”

  27. mac-phisto says:

    @roamer1: “Yes, there were the GAIT phones, too, but that was “GSM plus” more than anything else.”

    more like gsm minus. the nokia 6340i was quite possibly the worst phone ever invented. the idea of the gait technology was great, but the application sucked. if that phone so much as thought there was a gsm tower nearby, it wouldn’t pick up the tdma even if you were standing right next to it.

    the cingular/at&t wireless merger wasn’t too bad for most of the country, but here in northwest ct it couldn’t have been any worse – this was one of two markets where cingular had to sell of a bulk of towers & customers to avoid anti-trust laws. it’s much better now, but they easily lost a few thousand customers to that deal up here.

  28. EricLensherr says:

    Sprint is shutting down their iDEN network in the not too distant future, for reasons yet unknown. Phasing out the Nextel brand is just part of this transition.

  29. mdot says:
  30. Chi says:

    Maybe JohnDoe303 is a sprint employee, but I’m not and my plan is 500 minutes, 7pm N&W, Unl data (EVDO), Unl txt, Unl pic-mail, and, Unl m2m all for $30 before regulatory taxes (which brings it up to about $38 ish). Got a Moto Q for $80 and I just sent off my rebate forms, if those clear, I should be getting back around $100. Also coverage is good for me so far and I’m in NC.

    Overall, I’m pretty darn happy even with the iTake-Over-The-World-Phone is coming out this Friday. Right now I can’t see any other companies match the plan I got with Sprint.

    Sure I miss out on GSM, but honestly, unless I’m traveling to parts outside the US I really won’t have a need for it. Besides, that’s why I kept my old phone from China which I used with Cingular for a while.

    Just my .02.

  31. methane says:

    1) Embarq is a spin-off of Sprint Nextel, it was not it’s own company before that.
    2) Sprint and Nextel merged before Embarq was divested.
    3) Sprint shutting down Nextel seems to be wild speculation at this point. I’ve not heard nor read anything suggesting this will happen
    4) iDen technology has never been widely licensed by Motorola. I.e. the only licensing was to RIM for the Nextel Blackberry. If you don’t like Nextel phones, blame MOT.
    5) Sprint gained Nextel’s spectrum. If there was ANYTHING strategic about the merger, it was this. Why buy PTT? If you recall, everyone was going to implement their own PTT system over their data networks a few years ago. What happened to that?

  32. mdot says:

    $30/mo. for unlimited data, 500 mins voice and unlimited messaging???

    I call BS!

  33. mdot says:

    @methane: I think more uses for wireless broadband data happened. IMHO, I think dedicating as much bandwidth as possible to data applications (corporate email, broadband cards, instant messaging, ringtones, etc.) generates more revenue than a lower priced “niche based” PTT option that would require some of the data spectrum permanently dedicated to it.

  34. BloggyMcBlogBlog says:

    Sprint PCS — The PCS stands for “Piece of Crap and Sh-t.”

  35. MrFlashport says:

    Sprint did not buy Nextel to get iDEN, in fact, iDEN was never intended to be a replacement for a cellular system. iDEN was designed as a replacement for analog Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) systems “way back” in the early 90’s. Motorola created iDEN as a replacement for it’s aging analog trunked radio systems used by businesses. These systems were getting badly overcrowded. iDEN used digital radio and thus, allowed for more users to share the same frequencies. It also integrated full-duplex phone calls, paging, etc.

    Nextel decided to impersonate a cellphone company in the mid 90’s when PCS licenses began to build out their networks. Their first moniker was “you’ve never used a phone like this before”. Which I always laughed at because Nextel is not a cellphone, it’s an SMR. Sprint became interested in Nextel after Nextel’s system began causing harmful interference to thousands of public safety radio systems across the nation. Nextel had a lot of influence with the FCC back in the late 90’s (many former FCC officials and other politicians got jobs at Nextel). So much influence that when it came time to address Nextel’s ongoing interference to our radio systems, they proposed a solution that would gain them a windfall of nationwide radio spectrum in the PCS band. 10MHz of contiguous radio real estate…for next to nothing.

    And this is what Sprint wants, they inherited Nextel and all there issues (like the rebanding SCAM they pulled which is now blowing up in their faces) to get this nationwide spectrum windfall. No one knows how much the spectrum is worth, but industry analysts and competitors put it in the billions. Sprint could care less about iDEN, they want it to go away. They bought Nextel to get the spectrum and the customer base. iDEN itself has reached it’s zenith long ago and simply cannot compete with modern cellular and PCS networks such as UMTS and 1xRTT/EV-DO. But then again it was never intended to be a cellular system.

    Sprint is a seedy company run by twats who despise customers, it’s been this way for years. Gary Forsee isn’t helping it either.

  36. yg17 says:

    @common_cents: He probably has the SERO plan.

  37. mac-phisto says:

    @common_cents: what’s so unrealistic about this? i’m on a cingular (at&t) plan at $25/mo. for 2000 minutes (no unl n&w or rollover, but come on – who talks on the phone for 30+ hours a month?!?), unlimited data, unlimited messaging, NO CONTRACT.

    i got that plan when i was an activations specialist. stopped doing that awhile ago, but the nice thing about multibillion dollar corps is the ability to slide thru the cracks, right? ;)

    there’s some pretty awesome employee plans out there. some offer free phones, up to 25% off, some even have discounted data plans for blackberry & mobile broadband – check with your employer to see if they provide this as a benefit.

  38. FLConsumer says:

    I’ve heard that the military will be acquiring the iDEN technology and equipment…anyone able to verify this?

  39. SprayBottle says:

    You know why Sprint/Nextel are going to die within a few years? Their line of phone selection is the worst I’ve ever seen, and my family has gone through more plans then the rebuilding of the Twin Towers. They just got the Razr 7 months ago. Whenever you get one of their phones your always settling. And I’m a big fan of Samsung phones, I almost always choose their phones over any other company because the phones are very reliable, however, Sprint NEVER has any of the new/ridiculously cool/will probably give you brain cancer, but “OMG I can totally watch Jon Stewart on my Phone!” Samsung phones. I want a really cool phone, like a Sidekick or a EnV. But I can’t have them. No, from Sprint I can have a candy-pink “Katana” phone from Sanyo. Whoopee.

  40. synergy says:

    I’ve been with Sprint since May 2000. I rarely have calls dropped unless I’m in the center of the basement floor of my job surrounded by machinery. I’ve rarely to never had billing problems. Reception is just fine unless I’m where I mentioned earlier. Sprint works just fine for me.

  41. InductGnosis says:

    Wrong. I currently work for Sprint/Nextel on the nextel side. Sprint and nextel phones run off or 2 different networks. CDMA for sprint and iDEN for nextel. Nextel network will never be shutdown, due to the fact that Nextel states 95% of its customers chooses iDEN for direct connect.
    What you will see is the new Hybrid line gaining momentum. The hybrid phones use sprints CDMA network for the voice and Nextels iDEN for direct connect. If anything I project Sprint to phase out the iDENS voice.

  42. toobadsprint says:

    @MrFlashport: I totally agree.. However it was SPRINT who screwed up the Nextel network when they OUTED Nextel folk that knew the network and then screwed up the network totally after the merge.. They will continue to fix the sprint mess until the systems fully integrate. The biggest mistake was that Sprint bought Nextel, it was no merge, it was a cut and dry takeover.. Why else would most of the main executives, power people, head people leave?

    Why are they downsizing the company? The reports are that they are downsizing 5,000 people.. more than likely previous Nextel employees..

    No wonder customer service is at an all time low..

  43. OldTimer says:

    I have had Nextel for about 4 years south of Boston and it has always worked great no matter where I traveled. I have tried Sprint on several occasions and always go back to Nextel, I can not understand why I get a voice mail ring but can never get the call. The DC is amazing, the only one that really works in buildings anywhere in this area.
    Once again it is a matter of what network works in your are for you not the phone.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Nextel offered me a $100 rebate if I bought two phones and entered a two year contract. They then refused to give me the rebates. They admit that I sent in everything that they requested on time but wouldn’t pay because in their own words: “We haven’t paid yet and now we won’t because it’s too late. ” I canceled my contract early because of it and they charged me a $400 fee and sent that to a collection agency that has pestered me ever since.
    Throw in the rudest most inept customer service ever and you have a great reason to go with any other company.