Sprint on track to launch intelligent Wi-Fi in Kansas City

Sprint (NYSE: S) is getting ready to roll with its intelligent Wi-Fi network that will launch in conjunction with Kansas City, Mo.'s new street car.

Sprint, which has its headquarters in nearby Overland Park, Kan., announced last June that it was working in conjunction with the city of Kansas City and Cisco to deploy Cisco hardware to construct, own and manage the intelligent Wi-Fi network that will serve as the backbone of Kansas City's Smart+Connected City framework. Sprint said at the time that it would be the first mobile service provider to play an important connectivity role in the development of a U.S.-based Smart+Connected City ecosystem.

"It is on schedule," Tim Donahue, Sprint region president for Kansas and Missouri, told FierceWirelessTech on Wednesday. "It's scheduled to launch on May 6, and we will be enabling the Wi-Fi in conjunction with our partner Cisco," along the route of the street car.

Sprint is deploying the technology to make the network Hotspot 2.0 compatible, but that will be enabled in a later phase of the project, according to a spokesperson. For now, Sprint is just happy to be a part of the city's initiative to bring more smart technology to its citizens.

The street car line is part of a bigger connected city initiative. By providing the "backbone," Sprint is helping set up the city for future smart city applications. "This is just the beginning," Donahue said. "This is just the tip of the iceberg of making Kansas City a leader in the country in the connected city environment space. We're just honored to be a part of it."

The city added 2.2 miles of street car line for patrons who want to come into the city and use the free rail line that connects various venues. "This outdoor Wi-Fi is really intended to enhance for the citizens that live, work and play here, their ability to move physically but also have a connection as they are traveling along the outdoor areas," explained Kaila Schmidt, M2M marketing manager at Sprint.

Along the route, there will also be kiosks added along the different stops, powered by Sprint's Wi-Fi network as well, to engage citizens or visitors who are looking for things to do or other real-time city information. There's also an app that will be available closer to launch and it has beacon technology built into it, so ads can get pushed to those who opt in and download the app.

Marin Martinovic, director of business marketing, notes the city went through a massive revitalization over the past years and some of its marque venues didn't exist previously. Now, visitors will be able to stay connected while visiting the newer structures.

"Anything we can do to enhance the connectivity of mobile users in Kansas City, that's beneficial for us as a company and obviously beneficial to the community," Donahue said. As the hometown carrier, "we kind of view anything good for Kansas City is good for Sprint, and anything good for Sprint is good for Kansas City."

Related articles:
With deployments from San Jose to NYC, the smart city opportunity is becoming real
LinkNYC access points start appearing in New York City
Sprint partners with Cisco on intelligent Wi-Fi network for smart city deployment in Kansas City