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Definition: Nextel


(Nextel Communications, Inc., Reston, VA) A wireless communications carrier founded in New Jersey in 1987 as Fleet Call, a two-way radio service. Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, the company acquired a large number of SMR (Specialized Mobile Radio) operators and turned them into a nationwide system.

In 1996, Nextel introduced Motorola's iDEN technology, which incorporated dispatch radio, cellphone, data and text messaging into one phone. Branded as Nextel's Direct Connect, the iDEN two-way radio service provided an always-on connection between mobile workers similar to a walkie talkie. Nextel was one of the first cellular carriers to institute a no-roaming-charge service nationwide.

From Nextel to Sprint Direct Connect
In 2004, Nextel merged with Sprint, which became Sprint Nextel. Nine years later, in order to free up the network for LTE, the IDEN network was terminated. Customers were encouraged to sign up with a similar service known as Sprint Direct Connect, which uses the CDMA network. See SMR and walkie talkie.