Disclaimer: Unlike all other Viodi View articles, this one will refrain from the analysis, insight, inferences and comments that this author is noted for. Instead, that content is being provided exclusively on the IEEE ComSocSCV Discussion mail list. Instructions for IEEE members to join are at the bottom of www.comsocscv.org.
We will not offer opinions here or draw any conclusions on what we observed (and didn't see or hear) at this Conference.
I. Paget Alves, President of Sprint Business Market Group said that Sprint would be putting more focus on business customers than in the past. In particular, Sprint would enable companies to securely connect with mobile workers.. They plan to identify industry sectors and target solutions to those vertical markets, which include: health care, retail, manufacturing, finance and professional services. In addition, Sprint will be focused on improving two of their networks for business customers: IP-MPLS VPNs and "4G" for mobile workers.
Investments will be in five major areas: 4G, M2M,Business Solutions, Wireless-to-Wireline convergence, and Sprint ID.
"4G" was proclaimed to be a "cut the cord" alternative for busines with video seen as the killer app. For example, video surveillance and remote medical diagnostics are ways of coupling 4G with M2M communications. Sprint claimed to be a leader in LBS/GPS services, but no supporting documentation was provided.
Convergence involves seemlessly interconnecting fixed and mobile wireless networks with a global IP core network. A fixed wireless campus network was seen as a viable replacement for a wired campus for enterprise and university customers. Again, no details on how that wireless campus network was to be realized. However, a Sprint employee provided me with the following information:after the conference:
Sprint is actively marketing this product today through Sprint’s Customer Network Solutions (CNS group). The concept is simple: many have found their internal 802.11 networks are overtaxed and planning expansions, sometime with 802.11n, sometimes with just more access points. Using 4G picocell technology, the CNS team can provide high speed data services in a building with between 5:1 and 10:1 less APs than WiFi. The enterprise controls the authentication of devices and the data stays local to the enterprise network (i.e. it doesn’t backhaul to Sprint/CLWR and then go back to the enterprise).
II. Danny Bowman, President of Sprint's Solutions Group is "excited about M2M communications to improve people's live and improve enterprise productivity. Because of the "unlimited possibilities" envisioned, Sprint has just opened a M2M Collaboration Center in Burlingame, CA. (www.sprint.com/M2M). 30 new M2M partners will be working together to bring silicon and software solutions together. The one that intriqued me most was a company called BodyMedia which makes a gadget that will monitor your sleep quality.
Danny highlighted the very bullish M2M market forecasts, which we have written about recently: Exponential Growth in M2M Market Dependent on Important Network Enhancements.
He said that electronic prescriptions could save the medical industry $27B and that remote patient monitoring could be a $1.1B market by 2013. Other notable M2M examples cited were digital signage (said to revolutionize advertising) and connected vehicles including infotainment in cars.
III. Todd Rowley, Sprint VP of 4G was very upbeat on Sprint's ability to handle the exponential increase in data traffic from smart phones, tablets, notebooks and netbooks. While an iPhone consumes about 800M bytes per month, Todd predicted a future of 10+ G bytes per month for heavy duty wireless Internet users. Sprint offers unlimited data to users of its "4G' network and there are no plans to impose data caps. The Sprint 4G network will reach almost 120M people in 2010. Sprint 4G is currently in 55 markets, which covers 63M people. San Francisco and San Jose will be added by the end of this year. In contrast, the Sprint 3G network covers 270 Million people.
Sprint/Clearwire together have four or five times more spectrum than their wireless telco competitors which enables them to offer more bandwidth to more 4G subscribers. They claim 120 to 150 MHz of spectrum in each metro market served (using 2.5 GHz mobile WiMAX as the "4G" technology. vs the competition which has at most 30 to 45 MHz of spectrum (in lower frequency bands). As a result of all this spectrum, Sprint claims they can now support up to 420 M bits/sec of aggregate traffic per Cell Tower, with up to 840 M bits/sec per Tower in the future.
The following "Unique 4G Applications" were cited:
- 2-way Video Conferencing (e.g. an X Ray being transmitted to a hospital or Doctor's office, while the Doctor's image and voice are transmitted in the other direction)
- High Definition files, including full length videos
- Live video surveillance
- Simultaneous application viewing
4G M2M Applications identified were:
- Video surveillance by the Annapolis, MD Police Dept
- Remote diagnostics
- Digital Signage
- 2 -way Video Conferencing
- WiFi Enablement
- Resource tracing- including GPS tracking and receiving
4G was claimed to improve business productivity with new apps for vertical markets, including; virtual real estate, education, construction, health care, transportation, government and public safety, retail and insurance.
Two "personal hot spots" are the Sprint Overdrive and the Cradlepoint device. They provide WiFi to 4G capability that enables any WiFi device or PC to access Sprint's 4G network. The HTC Evo 4G and Samsung Epic 4G will connect to 4G if available and if not, fall back to 3G mode. The screens on those phones were said to be "made for watching videos."
Session continutity and Location Based Services (LBS) were cited as 4G services available to app developers.
IV. CEO Dan Hesse stated that Sprint was moving to an open platform and was planning a major initiative to help developers who create apps and content. He said that Sprint was making six announcements at this conference:
1. Browser based Value Added Services (VAS) powered by Openwave. The objective is to deploy a new ecosystem of enhanced services within the browser. Allowing developers to monetize and market application content to consumers and enterprise customers, the Sprint Browser VAS ecosystem (from Openwave) will provide developers the tools they need to develop apps and value-added services that run in the browser.
2. New Sprint ID partners. Announced earlier this month at CTIA, Sprint ID allows users to select, on one of three new Android smartphones, ID packs that feature apps, widgets, screensavers and more bundled in one convenient download. Up to five ID packs plus the My ID basic Android experience can be exploited to enable users to seamlessly move between experiences. It gives businesses the opportunity to improve the productivity of their increasingly mobile workforces. Mr. Hesse touted Sprint ID for the search and aggregation of (Android based) apps. He cited widgets, ringtones and "wallpaper" as examples and announced AOL and BodyMedia as new Sprint ID partners.
3, Sprint Mobile Wallet was said to be the first mobile payment solution of its kind by a U.S. carrier. Said to be an easy, secure way to buy physical and digital products using a Sprint phone, buyers use a universal PIN to make payments. Developers can use Mobile Wallet to monetize apps out of the "walled gardens" of app stores, according to Mr. Hesse.
4. M2M Collaboration Center in Burlingame, CA, where you can view the latest M2M technology, test new concepts/ideas and get support for commercial viability of your M2M application. Danny Bowman's Emerging Solutions Group is dedicated to M2M and embedded solutions. In 2011, a Command Center (a mini-NOC) will allow Sprint customers to monitor M2M devices from PCs at work or from a mobile device/ gadget.
5. Enhanced Services Platform will provide direct access for all APIs via a single Web 2.0 interface. It was described as a "seamless capability operating across all Sprint devices, including handsets." 3rd party value added services might include analytics, bar code scanning, and M2M prototypes. This new platform was predicted to "make applications richer and more profitable."
6. Communication Enablement will give 3rd party access to voice and messaging services (SMS). A gaming console was cited as an example. Voice and messaging continue to be among the most used services on a mobile device, yet they have seen little innovation in years. Sprint’s goal is to enable third parties to seamlessly extend their mobile communication services using the Sprint platform. Imagine a social networking site integrating mobile communication preferences into its available features, an in-home gaming service providing in-game calling and messaging, or the ability to have mobile calling and messaging capabilities available to the individual on any connected device, even when you don’t have your device with you.
Sprint is also expanding the ecosytem for the developer community through open application distribution channels. There are brand name distributors for SMB/Enterpris (Dell, Cisco, UPS) as well as Wholesale MVNOs (Comcast, C Beyond, LEAP).
For more on these announcements, please see: Sprint Announces New Sprint ID Partners, Sprint Mobile Wallet, Communication Enablement at 10th Annual Developer Conference
Points to Ponder
We ask you to think why Clearwire was mostly absent from this conference and Sprint made no mention in its presentations that it was Clearwire (not Sprint) that was building out their "4G" mobile network. This despite Sprint owning 55% of Clearwire and having 7 of 13 seats on Clearwire's Board of Directors.
You might also be curious as to why there are no 4G apps shown that take advantage of inherent "4G" capabilities like optimized mobile video or QoS for high priority M2M communications or real time video conferencing.
And since Sprint refers to mobile WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e-2005) as "4G" we wonder if the ITU-R approved 4G RANs (LTE Advanced and IEEE 802.16m/ WiMAX 2.0) will be called 5G by Sprint?
We will leave it to the reader to figure out the these mysteries from the 2010 Sprint Developer conference.
[Editor's Note: Sprint summarized what they view as key DevCon announcements in an 11/12/10 email to conference attendees. They are listed below for the convenience of the reader].
Appendix: Sprint DevCon Key Announcements: