Nextel Blackberry 7520 email vs. standard phone setup.

I am a bit of a late adopter in certain ways–though I’ve been using internet by phone for almost half a decade, I wait till there is a big technological leap or in this case price leap. The new Blackberry 7520 on Nextel dropped in price from January $250 to $50 now. I guess without a camera, it’s just not attractive enough for this growing class of cool kids that want a Nextel chirp.

It has dropped in price most likely due to the news of the Sprint-Nextel merger. Texting and data speeds at times have been miserable on Nextel during peak evening hours–if you are on a popular cell sector antenna. I want to hang with Nextel not only because of loyalty and that fuzzy feeling of lifestyle change due to them, but because it’s remembering that image and confidence I had with Nextel phones over the years.

At first, the digital Nextel meant I didn’t sound like crap with staticy phone calls. Then, it meant I could get email alerts and soon instant messaging. I feel like if I hopped to Sprint now, first of all I’d get their lousy 1.9GHz coverage–not their fault, it’s just where their PCS licenses lie. But when I go to my cottage, I don’t want to miss out on things due to weak 1.9 GHz penetration of heavy foliage.

In a sense this merger talk depresses me from the perspective of customer choice. Nextel was the scrappy, very well-funded underdog who gobbled up everything including our business. But now Nextel will be devoured by Sprint. What about Nextel innovators from field engineering who inspired me up to the level of CTO Barry West? I feel with Sprint it could be commoditized into the behemoth.

And this Nextel rebanding, I think phones will be obsoleted soon, the whole Nextel fleet. Sprint might find someway to CDMA-ize the refarmed 800 MHz frequencies. The spectral regrowth and hence interference to remaining public safety users might be horrendous compared to the tricks played with iDEN (e.g. turning unused channels off for unused timeslots). With CDMA it will be all on all the time, so interesting filtering will be needed. Not impossible, just more opportunities for engineers like me!

So the Blackberry 7520 is actually made to get email vs. the hacky email forwarding trick I’ve been doing to I think it will be a nice way to manage school, personal, and work email plus calendaring for class. At $50 I’m sure something else will come out (probably on Sprint!) in the next 12 months that will eclipse it and I can migrate then to a 300 kbps EVDO network instead of overcrowded 19.2 kbps Nextel data channels–I am doubtful WiDEN will make it to full realization with 800 MHz rebanding looming overhead.