While the federal government shutdown has put on hold the FCC review of Sprint's proposed merger with T-Mobile, the company continues to release new technologies and services. Sprint announced several projects this week at CES 2019 in Las Vegas that advance its position in the 5G and internet of things (IoT) spaces.
The three projects combine 5G and Sprint's Curiosity IoT core network and operating system to power smart technologies:
- Greenville, SC will be the first smart city to use Curiosity IoT, 5G: The partnership will involve a smart infrastructure build-out throughout the city, consisting of the dedicated IoT network and Massive Multiple-Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology. Massive MIMO is a wireless transmission network that is considered a key tool for 5G adoption. The technologies, along with "micropositioning" technology, eventually will support navigation and real-time reactions for smart machines such as connected vehicles and autonomous drones.
The technology is expected to attract digital startups to Greenville. Mayor Knox White notes that cities' crucial infrastructure for continued growth and investment used to be items such as roads, rail and airports, but now that has shifted to digital investments.
- Peachtree Corners, GA to test connected vehicles using 5G, Curiosity IoT: The 500-acre technology park will contain a 1.5-mile test track for smart vehicles. The track will support vehicle-to-vehicle communication, vehicle-to-infrastructure communication and over-the-horizon warnings.
Sprint touts this project as one that could positively influence connected vehicle safety, noting the test track could be used to test how connected vehicles safely make lane changes, exit highways, receive information about nearby connected emergency vehicles and receive and display warning messages. The project also is expected to create jobs, with nonprofit Peachtree Corners' Prototype Prime already recruiting software and hardware technology startups that want to be among the first to deploy 5G.
- Partnership with Mapbox to launch "precision mapping" technology: Mapbox's existing Live Map is built on data collected from millions of location-enabled sensors that provide real-time information. Curiosity IoT and 5G will further elevate the platform with low latency and additional bandwidth to provide higher volumes of richer data collection. Smart machines from drones to autonomous delivery devices can use the "precision mapping" to move around with greater accuracy and make quick routing decisions.
While these IoT and 5G-centric projects are not the same as rolling out a widespread 5G network, they could help to position Sprint for such a roll-out in the future. The projects are expected to increase interest in and requests for research and development on connected technologies while benefiting the communities in which they're implemented.
Sprint first announced its launch of Curiosity IoT in the fall. The telecom company did not provide a timeline for completing the three new projects, but it did say the city of Peachtree Corners already is building the connected vehicle test track.