U.S. operator Sprint and Swedish technology developer Ericsson have announced that they are creating a distributed and virtualized core network dedicated specifically to IoT services, as well as an IoT operating system. The new platform is expected to create an optimal flow of device data, enabling end-users and enterprises to receive immediate, actionable intelligence, according to the operator. The platform will be presented at a press conference at Mobile World Congress Americas in Los Angeles on 12 September.
Sprint has already partnered with Ericsson to roll out an IoT network, and the new system is powered by Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator platform. The core network is designed to provide low latency and the highest availability, and to reduce the distance between the device generating the data and the IoT application processing it. Nodes are distributed right to the user’s premises, if need be, to support specific security, privacy and latency requirements.
The new IoT OS provides connectivity and device management, which enables simplified inbound and outbound activity, configuration and updates of firmware and software for each device, and full subscription lifecycle management and monitoring of billing and usage data. Customers also have full control of data management and access to managed services for all IoT elements and enterprise locations, including network operations center monitoring, service resource fulfillment, cloud orchestration management and application management.
With IoT usage proliferating globally across user categories, from home-based consumers to large enterprises and governments, the need for larger networks and more sophisticated systems—very much including security—is growing. Technology companies such as Ericsson are rising to meet this demand. However, if mobile operators are to remain relevant and not miss out on major revenue opportunities, they need to get involved directly with the development of the IoT and deliver sophisticated services to their customers. Otherwise, they will certainly remain the proverbial “dumb pipes” with regard to IoT, and they once risked doing with regard to the streaming entertainment content and other value-added mobile services that invaded the market in recent years.
Sprint’s initiative with Ericsson is an excellent example of what we are talking about. First, the operator acted fast to create its own IoT network, so customers would not have to go outside its ecosystem to use connected devices. Now, Sprint is working with its technology partner to improve the network by reducing latency (while keeping power usage low) and increasing security. Not only that, but the partners are creating a proprietary IoT OS for Sprint, with full services and support that should prove especially attractive to enterprises.
By creating its own OS, Sprint is moving even more forcefully to keep its IoT users within its ecosystem and to make sure that it retains them in the future. It will be able to do that if its IoT OS is dynamic and evolves at or ahead of the pace of the technology generally. We think operators in many markets would be well served by emulating Sprint’s example to the extent possible.