Opinion: What Does Verizon’s Nexus One Mean for Sprint?

Neowin, with help from their inside informant, reported that Verizon will be getting the Nexus One on March 23rd. With the CDMA version of the phone spotted passing through the FCC, this date seems very likely. However, with all this excitement comes more questions.

When the Nexus One was announced by Google, T-Mobile-ers were ecstatic. On the flip side of the GSM spectrum, there was the AT&T crowd, who sulked and wept over the lack of support for their 3G bands. Keep in mind, this doesn’t stop AT&T users from using the phone on EDGE; there just isn’t a subsidy plan available to them. They have to buy the phone unlocked for a whopping $529.

With the CDMA version of the phone arriving, a slightly different scenario is beginning to take shape. You see, Sprint and Verizon use the same bands. This is the reason why Sprint users are able to roam onto Verizon’s network if they’re ever out of their service area. This means that a Verizon suited Nexus One is 100% compatible with the Sprint network and it’s 3G goodness. Sprint users are longing for the Nexus One. Currently, Sprint only has two Android options: the sexy and slow Hero, or the fast and bulky Moment. Why can’t Sprint users have a combination of both? The Nexus One is the ideal smartphone for any Android fan. It’s blazing fast, sexy as a pin-up, and gets updates right when Google releases them. It’s a dream phone. So why isn’t there any concrete news about Sprint carrying Nexus Uno? The customer service email saying that it’s coming could have just been a standard response for phone inquiries.

GSM and CDMA activation work very differently. With GSM, you can just pop your SIM card into any GSM capable phone. With CDMA, you have to register your ESN number with your carrier. In order for the CDMA version of the Nexus One to work with Lil’ Yellow, Sprint would have to add the ESN numbers to their database–something they won’t do unless they decide to support it. Sprint doesn’t allow unlocked phones onto its network. Without a Google/Sprint agreement, Sprint users who want the Nexus One would be forced to jump ship (unless the Supersonic and its months of waiting for OS updates are enough to keep you onboard).

It’s no secret that Sprint is struggling. The number three wireless carrier has been taking subscriber hits every quarter since merging with Nextel. If there’s any carrier that needs the Nexus One, it’s Sprint. This is what makes the situation so confusing. How could a company that’s in the process of rebuilding itself pass on carrying Google’s flagship device? A Nexus One running on Sprint’s unbelievable rate plans would be the deadliest combo in the market. Google wants to have its superphones available on all carriers, so surely, they’re in talks with Sprint. True, Sprint is very busy rolling out WiMAX and fixing their customer service, but how can they be too busy for Google? Answer: They can’t.

Right now, Sprint has no great high-end phone. For many of the users who have left Sprint, this is one of their biggest complaints. For a company like Sprint to make it big, they need the help of a giant. Google is the key to Sprint’s success. Sprint ignoring the Nexus One is like a physicist ignoring the laws of gravity. Sprint knows the value of Android and realizes its potential in the future mobility. They’ve read our posts, followed our coverage, and seen their customer service rep’s email. Yet, they never came out and said, “sorry, we have no plans to carry the Nexus One.” Silence is the key here. True, when there’s a rumor going around the Interwebs, a company doesn’t have to respond (and probably won’t). However, this only holds true when the rumor is started by an outside source. When a company, itself, leaks the information, it becomes their job to clarify. When Walmart accidentally put up a page saying that they’re selling the Nexus One, they had to come out and apologize for the error. Sprint’s own customer service said the device is coming. Had that been a mistake, Sprint would have had to issue a statement.

With a Sprint-ready Nexus One hitting the market this month, there’s just no way for them to ignore it. If Sprint didn’t end up carrying the Nexus One, I’d be shocked (I’d also probably leave Sprint after 5 years of yellow love). These Are the Droids claims that Sprint already has a Nexus One placeholder in their database. Also, just a few days ago, one of our readers, DLP, posted the following comment regarding our previous coverage of the matter.

“I had a problem with my Instinct last night and I was talking to CSR about phones while we were waiting for things to finish on the Instinct and I asked him about the Nexus One coming to Sprint and from what he told me it looks like the Nexus One will be coming to Sprint in April. We will see!!!”

For Sprint’s sake, I pray that the above intel is legit. It wouldn’t make sense for Sprint to pass on the Nexus One, especially if it means them being the only major carrier in the US without it. Even AT&T may get their own 3G capable version. If you’re a Sprint user and are on the wire about whether to stay or bounce–stay. The Nexus One is coming. I’m almost sure of it. The real question is… when?

UPDATE: I just saw this picture over at AndroidForums. It’s from less than a month ago and shows a live chat conversation on Sprint’s site that confirms the Nexus One. However, I’m not sure how authentic it is. It’s strange that it only merited a single response.

  • fathom614

    I know a few sprint customers who are waiting for the N1. With the cdma version of the N1 coming out will cyanogen and other roms work?

  • Guags

    I love my N1, but given the total number of N1's that have been sold, it is highly unlikely that it would be any kind of savior for Sprint. I think they should buy- in to it, but don't think it'll make or break this carrier.

    Oh, and you have got to be kidding to call $529 "whopping". It's by far the best deal out there. You'd be fool to pay for that bloated plan to get a subsidy!

  • hitraj47

    I currently have my nexus one on t mob. T mob aren't good where live (Georgia) so I'd like to switch. Actually now that I mention this, I think my contract may have just one more month. Verizon may be too expensive for me (I'm a cheap student) but sprint's pricing is about the same for what I get from t mob (70/no for 300 mins unlimited data). I'd be willing to pay the extra 15 a month for att also just because I'd like better coverage. Anyone have any ideas as to what I should do? Any one here in GA have experience with sprint or att?

    • asromafan

      I live in the DC area and being pretty finicky about my phones and have had each carrier over the past few years (T-Mob, Sprint, and ATT). I really have been pleasantly surprised with Sprint…For the price, Sprint has by far given me the most bang for my buck and I never drop calls like I did with ATT and T-Mob. Data speeds are much quicker w Sprint too.

  • Feech

    Sprint could just allow unlocked phones on the network, that would solve all of this. I think Sprint will have a superphone but it will likely include WIMAX..

  • john

    sign the pettition to get the N1 on Sprint!!!

  • Dave

    I'd like to see them do one better and come out with a killer 4G phone. I'm sitting on the fringe of T-Mo 3G coverage with my G1; however, I'm smack dab in the middle of Sprint's 4G. I'd move my family plan over in a heartbeat if they had the right phone.

    • pete

      I cannot understand why they have been so slow to introduce a 4g phone. With their rates, they would clean up.

      • SPrint rep

        SPRINT has the first 4g network out there and is still testing it and a 4g phone is soon to come out. the first one of any company!

        • PapaSmurph

          I think that 4G is great but everywhere I go has WiFi so if I had the N1 I would not need the 4G coverage. And if you are talking about the Supersonic which runs a different UI than the N1 and is a little bigger, that is not what i want. Sprint has what i think are some of the best plans but they only have lower end phones. I currently have a BB and i feel like i am limited to only what BB can offer with there phones, no cut edge apps or lots of customization they are geared toward the business person, not the everyday tech geek thats wants to create for him self.

        • hazydave

          Well, we'll see.

          Sprint has the first 4G network because they have partners, and they're using a different 4G technology and frequency band than anyone else. Sprint is part of the Clear consortium, which also includes Clear and Comcast branded services. Google and Intel are also partners in this.

          This uses WiMax radio protocols on 2500GHz. This will deliver up to 12Mb/s to customers, though Sprint is only claiming 6Mb/s… which is actually slightly slower than AT&T's HSPA+ rate of 7.2Mb/s. However, Sprint has their 4G service now in more places than AT&T's HSPA+ version of 3G.

          If they stay on schedule, though, Verizon will roll out their 4G service this summer, which uses the global LTE standard. Also, it's on 700MHz rather than 2500MHz… thus, greater range, far less rain fade, and it even goes through buildings and forests far, far better. There have been lots of demos of LTE delivering downlink rates of 50Mb/s or more, even in vehicles at high speeds (kind of an issue.. the ATSC's 8VSB modulation, for example, starts to fail at about 60MPH in a vehicle). They haven't yet announced the final delivery rate.

          And yeah, that's also an issue… the telcos decide what rates you actually get, peak, despite the technology. This is why Sprint is claiming 6Mb/s, Comcast is claiming 8MB/s. and Clear is claiming 10Mb/s (or something like that), despite the fact they're all using the same network (and yeah, Sprint is providing the 3G backup for Comcast and Clear devices).

          The other thing, of course, is that while Sprint's been very good at implying 4G connectivity (they mention "4G Network" in the same ad they use to promote 3G-only phones), they don't yet have a 4G phone available. They aren't really that far ahead of Verizon, either. Seems like it now, but Verizon's so big, when they turn on their 4G, it'll be in 40-50 cities all at once. And they get much better range, so they don't need as many cells to blanket a city, particularly in the early days before that many people are using 4G.

  • uninspired

    First off, saying that Sprint doesn't allow unlocked phones on its network is incorrect. I had Sprint for the last 3-4 years, and my last phone was an unlocked Blackberry i bought off e-bay.

    @Guags – The n1 alone may not revive Sprint, but they need new phones…period. I love the Sprint network, but waiting for them to get decent phones is just not worth it. I spent all of 2009 waiting for them to get even a SINGLE Blackberry with wi-fi. After all of that waiting, I jumped ship to T-Mobile solely to get a new handset.

    • hazydave

      It's different on CDMA… saying "unlocked phone" isn't even really the right question. In the GSM world, your phone account is keyed to your SIM card. So to keep people from too easily jumping networks, they started locking the actual phone. You can buy any old T-Mobile phone off eBay and hook it up to your T-Mobile network. But if you use AT&T, it has to be unlocked or it won't work.

      On CDMA, the phones aren't ever really locked, simply because their ID codes are buried in the phone itself. Sprint knows precisely the range of codes issued for phones they sell, Verizon knows precisely the range of phones they sell, and neither will accept a code that's not in their range of legal codes. Basically, the phone's unlocked, but the network is locked.

    • insane2thamembrain

      the blackberry tour from sprint has wifi…

  • twospirits

    The Nexus One or its equivalent would probably make it to Sprint, with or with out its current bugs. The one to look out for is the Supersonic. That will be its flagship phone with snapdragon and 3G/4G service. If they only add GSM capability to make it a world phone, then they will have a killer on their hands. Still without the world phone capability it will still be their best phone once it comes out by years end. (Some say 3rd qtr).

  • Sprint is losing its market to the others, many of Sprints customers have been drifting to other providers as they get some better options to select from with better services, so it has become mandatory for Sprint to revive and add a couple of phones like the nexus one to their list of compatibles. This would surely work in their favor and get them moving again.

  • 5n4r35

    Seems like there are a ton of people that want a N1 but dont want tmobile coverage. Or lack there of. Sales will go up after Big Red gets it and then there's ATT. If Sprint doesn't get it I am getting ATT. It will cost more but I'll have my N1. Its off to the races who will get it first ATT or Sprint? I'm taken all bets here. My money's on Sprint.

  • D. Chou

    SuperSonic June 30. Will be part of a presentation in Kansas City where Dan rolls out 4G and the first 4G handset.

    Poke and complain if you want. Just staring the facts.

  • Sprint Not only needs a new android handset but multiple high end phones, need to improve and expand their existing 3G & IDEN architecture, and Request for high end phones to be built with the IDEN and 3g CDMA radios running. They failed miserably in trying to integrate these two radio bands and expand it before they even decided for WIMAX. Something is terribly wrong with the way they are accomplishing their expansion methods. The Nexus 1 wont save them but it would increase their subscriber numbers solidly, not incredibly. You cant expect to increase subscriber numbers if your 3G CDMA and IDEN coverage isnt up to Par as Verizon's Wide coverage. That map on the verizon commercials are very effective and truthful. The only thing keeping Verizon from exploding subscriber numbers is the fact they are still not delivering BANG FOR THE BUCK. Every carrier has different pricing schemes that makes them tailor to certain people.

  • I dont care who gets the Nexus 1, but when your coverage isnt vast and expansive but your pricing plans rock(like sprint) the nexus one will not save you but get you a few people to turn. It would be different if the Sprints plans were the same as now and it had a vast, reliable, 3g network covering the country(like Verizon's). This is where they killed themselves.

    They are stuck between a rock and a hard place:
    "Should we expand and continue building out our 3G CDMA and continue integrating IDEN to devices? or should we jump on the 4G bandwagon and start building that out? "

    I dont know what they are trying to do but they will run themselves dry if they attempt both. On a side note I have seen a Google Nexus 1 running on BIG RED's network. And that my friends will only rake in more subscribers for VZW.

  • oo i just heard about this.. nice..

  • thank you so much for sharing. nice info

  • Google is the key to Sprint’s success. Sprint ignoring the Nexus One is like a physicist ignoring the laws of gravity.

  • With the CDMA version of the phone arriving, a slightly different scenario is beginning to take shape, I think.

  • Sprint has the first 4G network because they have partners, and they’re using a different 4G technology and frequency band than anyone else.

  • Sprint could just allow unlocked phones on the network, that would solve all of this.

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