Sprint has named three locations where it has established IoT Curiosity networks near IoT clients: Greenville, South Carolina; Peachtree Corners, Georgia; and Phoenix, Arizona. And the IoT networks it can sell to clients bear a strong resemblance to private LTE networks.
“At the moment we have 27 Curiosity nodes across the US,” Ivo Rook, Sprint’s Internet of Things SVP, said. “The reason is simple: the closer you are to a node, the closer you are to data processing, the better the performance your IoT network has, the closer you are to a node. We expect over 100 nodes over time.’
For all its existing nodes, the organization is not listing all the customers it has dealings with.
Sprint partners with Packet for its bare metal computing infrastructure and with Ericsson for the networking tools to set up its Curiosity IoT networks. Curiosity uses the existing spectrum of Sprint or the spectrum of 150 carriers worldwide with which Sprint has agreements.
There was a lot of talk about narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) networks and Cat-M1 networks when the idea of the IoT networks first emerged. Yet Rook clarified that those IoT networks are currently being implemented within the current cellular network of Sprint for Sprint. The IoT networks are ideal for low-bandwidth devices such as sensors, which use very little power compared to what smartphones use.
NB-IoT’s regular cellular network “sits in between the band,” hence it gets its name: narrow-band. Rook said, “Usually if you want to deploy anything globally, narrow-band has more of a role. For instance, if the utility sector decides to install 3,000 meters. ”
But Sprint’s Curiosity deployments are not always heavily dependent on NB-IoT. They also rely on the LTE spectrum, making them look very much like a private LTE network. And the Curiosity installations will use spectrum even in areas where Sprint has not yet installed cell phone service infrastructure.
In addition to the scope of Sprint, their Curiosity implementations include the core infrastructure of computing and networking, which Sprint obtains from Packet, the bare metal data centre company. And then that bare metal infrastructure runs Ericsson software that provides all of the network functionality including the evolved packet core. “Because this is how we built our network, we can run our network just about anywhere,” Rook said.