Sprint, Nextel Complete Merger

Sprint and Nextel have officially completed their $35 billion merger, although subscribers won't see the effects for at least the next few weeks. Sometime next month, subscribers will be able to switch from one provider to the other without paying cancellation fees.

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Also, customers whose plans include free in-network calling will be able to call free to both Sprint and Nextel customers sometime next month, the company said.

The merger solidifies Sprint Nextel's hold on the #3 position among U.S. wireless carriers with 44 million subscribers. It trails No. 2 Verizon Wireless, with 45.5 million subscribers, and No. 1 Cingular Wireless, with more than 50 million subscribers.

The merger creates a company with 80,000 employees nationwide. In a blow to the Kansas City area, where Sprint has been located since its founding, the new entity's headquarters will be in Reston, Va., where Nextel got its start. The new company will maintain its operations center in suburban Overland Park, Kansas.

Sprint Nextel will concentrate on the wireless business, selling off the local telephone businesses Sprint operates in 18 states. The local telephone business has been steadily losing subscribers while Sprint and Nextel have each grown their wireless businesses nearly 10 percent in the eight months since the merger was announced.

Sprint Nextel's combined networks cover approximately 268 million people.

Sprint was founded in 1899 by Cleyson Brown under the Brown Telephone Company name in the small town of Abilene, Kansas. It was a landline telephone company that operated as a competitor to the Bell System. In the mid 20th century, Brown changed its name to United Utilities. That company changed its name to United Telecommunications in 1972, as it began to offer a more diversified product range.

In 1986, the company launched its long distance services under the Sprint brand name. As more people became familiar with the Sprint name, the company changed its from United to Sprint Corporation in 1992.

In 1995, the company began to offer wireless service under the Sprint PCS brand.

NEXTEL was founded as FleetCall in 1987, promoting its "push-to-talk" feature. It changed its name to NEXTEL Communications in 1993.

Copyright 2005 ConsumerAffairs.com

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