Sprint forms M2M-focused business unit

Sprint Nextel said it would create a new business unit focused solely on bringing more machine-to-machine and mobile computing solutions to market for businesses and consumers. The new unit, called Emerging Solutions, will focus on embedded wireless devices that offer "increased durability, hardware/software integration, simple setup and lower support costs for customers and partners." Sprint also will focus on M2M devices for a variety of applications, including asset tracking, fleet management, telematics, automation and control, automated meter reading and smart grid initiatives.

Danny Bowman, president of Sprint's Integrated Solutions Group, told FierceWireless that the new unit would essentially allow the company to streamline its M2M processes. He said the unit would fall under the Integrated Solutions banner, and that Sprint would put significant marketing muscle behind the unit, so that vertical markets--from health care to transportation--know about Sprint's capabilities. He also said Sprint would continue its focus on partnerships, such as the one between the carrier and Amazon that produced the Kindle ereader, which Sprint powers.

The new unit is the latest step Sprint has taken to bolster its M2M presence. In September, the company signed a multi-year deal with wireless data service provider M2M DataSmart to help get more M2M devices running on its network.

Other carriers also are pouring more resources into M2M. AT&T recently announced a new lab designed specifically to test and certify embedded wireless and M2M devices, as well as a partnership with Jasper Wireless, and Verizon Wireless formed an M2M joint venture with Qualcomm. T-Mobile USA is also involved in the M2M space, and earlier this year launched an embedded SIM card for M2M solutions.

Bowman said he expects significant growth in the M2M space during the next 12 to 18 months. "It's almost like a rerun of some of the things we've seen in the past, whether it was content or apps," he said. "I think this is one of those windows of opportunity. The first movers will end up in a very good position over the next five years."

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