We're guessing that this isn't the riveting Q4 announcement that Dan Hesse promised us last week at Sprint's Kansas headquarters, but it's a shock to the system nonetheless. The outfit's legacy iDEN network is still kicking around (and in turn, eating up valuable resources to run it), and while we're told that those push-to-talk users are some of the most loyal, it looks as if 2012 will be the year they're forced to try something new. The company's CDMA-based Direct Connect alternative is officially slated to launch this winter, with those who buy in treated to triple the square miles of the company's current push-to-talk coverage area, broadband capabilities and a smattering of new devices.
The Kyocera DuraMax and DuraCore will be joined by an unannounced Motorola smartphone, all of which should be rugged enough to handle the expected field work. Furthermore, Sprint will be adding international push-to-talk (alongside "additional capabilities") in early 2012, and users should see a marked improvement in in-building coverage. Finally, we're told that voice and data capacity is expected to increase significantly as Sprint leverages its spectrum holdings in 800MHz, 1.9GHz, and -- through its relationship with Clearwire -- 2.5GHz. And with that, we'd say your iDEN handset stash just became quite the collector's item. Full details are tucked away in the PR just past the break.