Wideband Integrated Digital Enhanced Network, or WiDEN, is a software upgrade developed by Motorola for its iDEN enhanced specialized mobile radio (or ESMR) wireless telephony protocol. WiDEN allows compatible subscriber units to communicate across four 25 kHz channels combined, for up to 100 kbit/s of bandwidth. The protocol is generally considered a 2.5G wireless cellular technology.
iDEN, the platform which WiDEN upgrades, and the protocol on which it is based, was originally introduced by Motorola in 1993, and launched as a commercial network by Nextel in the United States in September 1996.
WiDEN was originally anticipated to be a major stepping stone for United States wireless telephone provider Nextel Communications and its affiliate, Nextel Partners. However, with the December 2004 announcement of the proposed Sprint Nextel merger, it has been speculated that the Nextel iDEN network will be quickly abandoned in favor of Sprint's CDMA network. Although a complete roadmap of the merger's impact on the combined company's wireless networks has not been released, Nextel and Motorola have agreed to continue to maintain and expand the iDEN network through, at least, 31 December 2010. WiDEN has not been active on the NEXTEL National Network since October 2005 when rebanding efforts in the 800MHz band began in a Sprint effort to utilize those data channels as a way to handle more cellular phone call traffic on the NEXTEL iDEN network. To this date, WiDEN has not been restored.
WiDEN Subscriber Units
The first WiDEN-compatible device to be released was the Motorola iM240 PC card
card which allows raw data speeds up to 60 kbit/s. The first WiDEN-compatible telephones are the Motorola i850 and i760, which were released mid-summer 2005. The recent i850/i760 Software Upgrade enables WiDEN on both of these phones. The commercial launch of WiDEN came with the release of the Motorola i870
on 31 October 2005, however, most people never got to experience the WiDEN capability in their handsets. WiDEN is also offered in the i930/i920 Smartphone, however, Sprint shipped these units with WiDEN service disabled. Many in the cellular forum communities have found ways using Motorola's own RSS software to activate it. WiDEN was available in most places on Nextel's National Network. As stated above, it no longer is enabled on the Sprint-controlled towers. Since the Sprint Nextel merger the company determined that because Sprint's CDMA network was already 3G and going to EVDO (broadband speeds) and then EVDO Rev A (T-1 speeds) it would be redundant to keep upgrading the iDEN data network. WiDEN is considered a 2.5G technology.
Countries operating iDEN networks
Capitalization and Pronunciation
Motorola originally referred to the platform as wiDEN, choosing to capitalize only the letters representing "Digital Enhanced Network," as it had with iDEN. However, subsequent promotion from Motorola and Nextel has indicated that the preferred capitalization is WiDEN.
The term has been pronounced, commonly, as a close combination to the words "why" and "den", or simply as the word "widen". The former is closer to the original pronunciation of iDEN, as "eye" and "den".