Sprint adds Birdstep technology for data traffic management

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) has adopted a two-vendor strategy for its Sprint Connections Optimizer on Android phones, adding Birdstep Technology's EasySmart client as a complement to the NetWise Director product it already uses from Smith Micro Software.

Sprint Connections Optimizer enables Sprint to adjust network selection on subscribers' devices as they move between coverage areas, dynamically connecting them to Sprint's 3G, WiMAX and LTE networks or to Wi-Fi as appropriate. The middleware can provide intelligent data traffic management by encouraging automatic offloading from the cellular network to suitable Wi-Fi networks.

Smith Micro announced in January that Sprint had tapped its Mobile Network Director--now called Netwise Director--to power the Sprint Connections Optimizer, which now also employs Birdstep's technology. "We have two vendors providing the same functionality for the Sprint Connections Optimizer on different phones," a Sprint spokeswoman told FierceBroadbandWireless.

As with Smith Micro's client, Birdstep's client can be pre-installed on new devices or rolled out over the air to existing ones, said the Sprint spokeswoman.

Birdstep has validated results on 1 million devices based on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system for Sprint, with additional rollouts planned for later this year, said a Birdstep spokeswoman. "Birdstep offers an iOS client, but the current engagement with Sprint is limited to Android devices," she noted.

Sprint is also using Smith Micro's Netwise Director only for Android devices.

However, Smith Micro this week expanded its Netwise traffic management portfolio by announcing NetWise SmartSpot for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS-based devices. Dave Sperling, Smith Micro CTO, explained that the SmartSpot iOS traffic management solution differs from the NetWise Director product because Apple does not provide low-level interfaces to get device radio status, control radios or collect data parameters.

Therefore, he said, "NetWise SmartSpot cannot direct traffic automatically, but it can supplement traffic management policies by recommending lower-cost, higher-performing Wi-Fi connections to subscribers."

Several SmartSpot features will be available on Android and Windows 8 devices in the future, Sperling added.

For more:
- see this Birdstep release
- see this Smith Micro release

Related articles:
Juniper: Small cells, Wi-Fi to carry nearly 60% of mobile traffic in five years
Kerton: Industry needs to evolve first-gen Wi-Fi offloading
Juniper: Data offload & onload - balancing the load
4G Americas calls for collaboration to deal with dearth of U.S. spectrum
Survey: Sluggish mobile networks, data caps driving Wi-Fi uptake
Smith Micro: 84% of smartphone users support automatic Wi-Fi offloading
Sprint selects Smith Micro solution to manage network traffic

Article updated June 21, 2012, to correct the spelling of Birdsteps' EasySmart client.