Before smartphones took over, Nextel was one of the leading phone brands. Mostly, they were flip phones manufactured by Motorola. In addition, the phone included push-to-talk functionality. Hence, instead of just being a cell phone, it was a two-way radio.

In the current era, smartphones are increasingly dominant. Nevertheless, sometimes they can be overwhelming. So, could Nextel’s walkie-talkie push-to-talk be on its way back? Well, let’s find it out in our discussion. 

We will be covering Nextel’s walkie-talkie, how it reigned the market, why it faded, and if it will return. 

What is the Nextel Walkie Talkie Push to Talk Device?

In the United States, Nextel was one of the pioneers to launch a national digital cellular network. In fact, the company influenced the mobile phone market vastly. 

Additionally, back then, Nextel used Motorola’s iDEN technology. A specialized mobile radio frequency of 800 MHz was used for its functioning. 

It was at that time the push-to-talk “walkie-talkie” was offered by Nextel’s iDEN network. It also featured direct-dialed voice calls. The product was marketed as DirectConnect. Later, Nextel integrated GPS into their phones and upgraded their 2G network. 

With the push-to-talk feature, families, friends, and large groups could communicate and find each other easily even in packed areas. It was fairly easy to operate. By looking someone up and pressing the button, a real-time communication channel appeared within a few seconds.

Does Nextel Still Exist?

Nextel no longer exists. The network officially shut down on June 30, 2013. Moreover, the company was no longer a standalone company by 2005. 

In that year, Sprint acquired it. Finally, Nextel retired in 2013. However, Sprint’s network now incorporates Nextel’s features, such as Push-to-Talk. It also rebranded Nextel’s customers to Sprint.

Why Did Nextel Fail?

Many analysts attribute Sprint’s management problems to the poorly executed merger between Sprint and Nextel, completed in 2005. Firstly, their networks didn’t share the same technology. Due to this, integrating operations proved difficult. Besides, their marketing strategies clashed.

Secondly, when the rivals of Nextel found it in such a vulnerable condition, rivals seized the opportunity. Therefore, they targeted dissatisfied customers. 

Moreover, the company was losing significant employees. One of them talked about changes in organizational structure. Furthermore, to deal with the company’s downfall, Sprint devised schemes similar to those of its competitors. 

Thirdly, the push-to-talk used iDEN technology rather than the GSM/CDMA system. This made it slower and less efficient. Furthermore, because of technology differences, the ReadyLink service could not make or receive push-to-talk calls with iDEN users. If you haven’t already guessed, ReadyLink was Sprint’s own push-to-talk system.

Finally, eliminating the Nextel brand is part of Sprint’s plan to transition to a network-based vision. Besides, for Sprint to keep up with Verizon and AT&T’s 4G rollouts, they need to simplify their network system and free up wireless spectrum.

How Did Nextel Work as a Phone Having Push-to-talk Feature?

Through the iDEN network, Nextel operated as a phone with push-to-talk capabilities. One of the prime advantages of this system is that it allows users to connect to other Nextel users with a single touch of a button. 

Moreover, the service was typically free if the users were within the local coverage area. Besides, you can easily connect up to 100 Nextel users all at once. It thus tells us, how communication was made faster and easier at that time compared to regular phones. In addition, poor cell coverage doesn’t affect your ability to connect with other users. 

The Nextel push-to-talk devices were quite popular with businesses, organizations, and even small families. Nevertheless, you need to purchase special phones that are only compatible with the iDEN technology.

Can You Buy Nextel Phones Today?

No, you cannot buy Nextel phones at present times. However, you will find scrap phones on eBay. Most of them are parts that are no longer usable. 

Currently, T-Mobile owns Sprint’s network. Moreover, you may consider a MOTOTRBO or Zello phone. These phones feature some functionality that we had on Nextel phones, such as push-to-talk. 

Besides, there are other push-to-talk alternatives. For example, Verizon push-to-talk technology. Similarly, Sprint also has this technology in an advanced form named Sprint Direct Connect Plus.

Will Nextel Devices Make a Comeback in the Future?

Many fans of Nextel’s push-to-talk would love to see it back. It allowed decreased costs with increased coverage. Besides, it was one of the best solutions for a nationwide network back then. 

Are there any chances of it returning? We don’t think it will return. However, keeping true to the previous technology, push-to-talk-enabled two-way radios or smartphones are advancing. Therefore, Nextel may not come back. 

Nevertheless, there are now better and more reliable alternatives. In the next part, we will talk about a few alternative push-to-talk walkie-talkies to Nextel’s.

An Alternative for Replacing Sprint Nextel Push-to-talk

If you are looking for alternatives to Sprint Nextel Push-to-talk, here are a few options. Firstly, a traditional two-way radio system could be a great alternative. It is also cheaper. However, it comes with fewer features or functionality compared to Nextel. 

Secondly, Zello or Voxer apps. They allow users to communicate with each other in an instant using their smartphones. Additionally, they are more affordable with features, such as group chats and file sharing. 

Next, the Motorola WAVE system could be one of the other solutions. You need to sign up for its subscription-based group communication service. This way, any team can communicate instantly across devices, networks, and locations.

Another similar solution could be the Motorola Curve-enhanced two-way radio. With Wi-Fi-powered cloud communication as well as radio-based push-to-talk capabilities, this handheld has it all. 

Furthermore, Sprint’s new phones are mostly business two-way radios. They are also built to withstand extreme environments. 

Finally, businesses can use private LTE networks. While they are more expensive than Sprint Nextel Push-to-Talk, they are more secure and reliable.

Comparing Traditional Motorola Walkie-talkie to Old Nextel Push-to-talk Device

Let’s discuss two more Motorola walkie-talkies, the TLK 100 and TLK 150. The features of these phones are similar to those of Nextel push-to-talk phones, but they are better.

As a start, both Motorola TLK 100 and 150 have a much more rugged design than the old Nextel phones. This means these walkie-talkies are excellent for heavy-duty and can withstand harsh climates. 

Next, the range is another major advantage. Unlike the Nextel walkie-talkie technology, these two Motorola devices can transmit anywhere within reach of WiFi or cellular connection. 

Besides, the push-to-talk radios can use existing, nationwide cellular networks. This implies an easy and instant connection between people across the country. Note that it wasn’t the same with the Nextel push-to-talk phones. You could only reach the contacts that were within your network range. 

Thirdly, remember when you could only connect to a contact who also had Nextel push-to-talk? However, with Motorola, this isn’t the case. Using a dedicated app such as WAVE or Motorola, any phone can become a push-to-talk device. 

Finally, Motorola TLK 100 and 150 do not feature any interactive screens. This means you will experience minimal distractions. Moreover, the new generation Motorola radios comply with distraction-free driving laws. Nevertheless, you could use the old Nextel while driving because it was a phone.

Can Nextel Become a Competitor to Other Walkie-talkie Devices for Two-way Radio?

We believe Nextel may have the potential to compete with many walkie-talkies on the market. 

First of all, Nextel walkie-talkies have a push-to-talk feature. It instantly connects other Nextel users with just a push of a button. Moreover, they come with functionalities such as group chat, text messaging, and GPS tracking. Above all, the Nextel walkie-talked has a greater range. This could be missing in many similar devices. 

Secondly, not only Nextel is offered at competitive pricing but it also has a nationwide network. It covered 99 percent of the US population. 

Despite all these features, there is a chance that it may not thrive similarly to the past. One of the main reasons is that it is not well known at this stage. It also needs to upgrade technology and introduce more functionality to keep up with the modern pace. Further, Nextel’s walkie-talkie is more expensive than a regular walkie-talkie. 

Key Takeaway

During its time, Nextel Walkie Talkies with push-to-talk stood out from the crowd. It had some unique technology and features. In fact, it was the first push-to-talk provider in the US. The people at that time embraced it widely because it was an excellent way to connect, individually or as a group, easily and instantly. It was popular in both large-scale industries and small-scale households. Additionally, it was very reliable. 

Although Nextel has been discontinued, it has paved the way for the next generation of walkie-talkies with push-to-talk features. Thus, if you need something similar to Nextel, there are many alternatives on the market that are far more advanced and better designed.