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Milestone Events Making Sprint History: 1899 - 1989

Sprint Nextel: Aiming to be No. 1 in Customer Experience

Two great traditions of bold innovation have come together in a new company with a clear mission: To be No. 1 in providing a simple, instant, enriching and productive customer experience.

The Sprint Tradition .
Sprint's red diamond logo represented the combined achievements of many legendary predecessors, including United Telecommunications, US Sprint and Centel.

Each embraced the same bold approach that Sprint's founder Cleyson Brown showed in 1899, when the Brown Telephone Company successfully went toe-to-toe with the Bell monopoly in Abilene, Kansas. By the mid-1970s, the company's aggressive growth strategies had firmly established it as the nation's largest independent local telephone provider.

When long distance opened to competition in the 1980s, Sprint immediately seized the opportunity. By 1986, Sprint led all U.S. telecom companies by completing the first nationwide, 100% digital, fiber-optic network. At the same time, the company was a pioneer in data communications, establishing the world's third largest commercial packet data network in 1980.

Sprint charged into the 1990s with pacesetting moves for both consumers and businesses. The company that gave America pin-drop clarity also became a global leader in voice and data services. Then a new kind of telecom company emerged in 1993, when Sprint and Centel merged to become a unique provider of local, wireless and long distance services. Sprint took its wireless strategy a big step further in the late '90s by building the only nationwide PCS network in the U.S.

With its relentless drive to continually set new standards of excellence, Sprint has been a game-changing force in creating advanced local capabilities, groundbreaking IP and wireless applications and unprecedented mobility solutions.

The Nextel Tradition .
In 1987, a visionary entrepreneur named Morgan O'Brien founded a company called Fleet Net. Renamed Nextel in 1993, the company rapidly established itself as a nationwide force in the burgeoning world of wireless communications.

In less than year's time, Nextel merged with Dial Call and OneComm, acquired all of Motorola's SMR licenses in the U.S., and received a $1 billion investment from wireless pioneer Craig McCaw. By mid-1995, Nextel was on point to serve all of the nation's top 50 markets.

Armed with nationwide spectrum and presence, Nextel was ready to dramatically demonstrate its genius for innovation. In September 1996, the company introduced Motorola's breakthrough iDEN technology. This marked the first combination of enhanced digital cellular, two-way radio and text/numeric paging in one phone – the famed Nextel phone. The national rollout of iDEN service began and the Nextel National Network was introduced in January 1997.

From that moment on, Nextel has aggressively expanded its reach and product capabilities. By the year 2000, the company had connected to countries around the world and introduced its always-connected wireless data solution. Soon to follow were its signature Nationwide Direct Connect walkie-talkie service, IP broadband access and a steady stream of feature-rich Internet-ready phones and smart devices.

With unwavering determination to be first, better and different, Nextel has written the book on market-defining innovation, building an intensely loyal customer base and leading the way with compelling offerings for both businesses and consumers.

Sprint Nextel: A legacy of innovation

We've combined two great traditions into a single company with an extraordinary record of achievement. With pride in our bold and entrepreneurial heritage, we'll continue to open new doors for our customers and our industry.

Sprint Founder
Cleyson Brown begins the Brown Telephone Co.
Nextel Founder
Morgan O'Brien launches Fleet Call.
World Class
Sprint – World's first Public Data Network is launched.

Coming of Age
Sprint – Decades of local expansion produce $1 billion revenue milestone.

Pin-Drop Quality
Sprint – Long-distance service begins and famous pin-drop commercials debut.

Industry First
Sprint – First nationwide, 100 percent digital, fiber-optic network is completed.

Across the Sea
Sprint – First transatlantic fiber-optic phone call connects.
Going Global
Sprint – International subsidiary forms to market global public data network services.
Internet Pioneer
Sprint – Makes history as first carrier to offer commercial Internet access.
Triple Play
Sprint – Becomes first major company to provide local, long distance and wireless services.
Radio Spectrum
Nextel – All of Motorola's SMR radio licenses in the U.S. are acquired.
Nationwide Coverage
Nextel – Assets now serve each of the top 50 U.S. markets.
Smart Investor
Nextel – Wireless pioneer Craig McCaw and his family agree to invest $1.1 billion.
PCS Leader
Sprint – First nationwide 100-percent digital PCS wireless network is completed.
All in One
Nextel – Becomes first to combine digital cellular, two-way radio and text-numeric paging in one phone (using Motorola's iDEN technology).
Revolutionary Rollout
Nextel – iDEN service goes national.
Fast Fiber
Nextel – A 15,000-mile fiber network connects almost every city in the U.S. and Canada.
Worldwide Service
Nextel WorldwideTM service becomes the largest all-digital wireless coverage in the U.S. and more than 70 countries.
Top 100 Markets
Nextel, with Nextel Partners, Inc., serves top 100 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas.
Signature Service
Nextel – Nationwide Direct ConnectSM walkie-talkie service becomes the talk of the industry.
Java Time
Nextel – Becomes the first to introduce a wireless JavaTM phone in North America (with Motorola).
Blazing Speed
Sprint – Global IP network features first 10 gigabit per second transatlantic IP backbone.
Ahead of its time
Sprint – PCS Vision launches a new era in wireless.
Nationwide First
Sprint – Becomes the first wireless carrier to complete a nationwide Third Generation (3G) 1X network upgrade.
Sophisticated Device
Nextel Direct Connect walkie-talkie service comes to the Blackberry for the first time.
In Motion
Nextel – Becomes the first carrier to provide access to live streaming video.
Fast Finder
Nextel – Global Positioning System (GPS)-enabled phone (with Motorola) is an industry first.
Ahead of the Game
Sprint – Becomes the first major U.S. provider to begin conversion of local circuit-switched network to a next-generation packet network.
Cable Telephony
Sprint – Voice phone service in partnership with cable companies is initiated.
Fast Track
Nextel – A 10-year partnership begins with NASCAR, America's No. 1 spectator sport.
Double Coverage
Nextel Wireless BroadbandSM launches and coverage area doubles in less than year.
Fast Data
Sprint – Unveils plans to deploy high-speed EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) technology across the PCS network.
Blockbuster Merger
Sprint Nextel merger is announced.
Done Deal
Sprint Nextel launches operations.

1996 - present

1996 - present

1990 - 1995

1990 - 1995

1899 - 1989

1899 - 1989