Sprint Nextel Says The iDen Network Stays; Aims To Have 40 New Push-To-Talk Markets Soon

One of the big questions for Sprint (NYSE: S) right now is what it will do with its Nextel network — spin it off, turn it off, or invest in it to keep it going. Some of that has become clearer in the last couple days after Sprint’s CEO Dan Hesse has providing insight at the company’s shareholder meeting and during its earning’s call.

The Nextel network, which uses iDEN equipment, is most-known for its walkie-talkie like service called Push-to-Talk. But iDEN is fading. Motorola is the main equipment supplier and Sprint is the only operator using it in the U.S. Hesse addressed investors today during its company’s annual shareholder meeting, saying he doesn’t see it going away and wants iDEN to be the primary choice for Nextel customers, according to Dow Jones. He added that he expects Motorola to continue to support the technology, even though there’s been some concerns because of Motorola’s own problems.

Sprint has also been making a huge investment in building Qualcomm’s (NSDQ: QCOM) QChat technology, which lets the iDEN walkie-talkie users contact user’s on Sprint’s CDMA network. On that front, Sprint is also making progress. At CTIA, the company announced its launch, and on the company’s earnings call yesterday, Telephony reported that Hesse said Sprint will expand QChat to 40 markets in the upcoming months, and by the end of the year aims to have 80 percent of existing it network online. Currently, the QChat service is limited to business customers in Kansas City, Denver and Cincinnati, and has six handsets, including two Sanyo