Sprint and networking giant Ericsson have announced that they will build a virtualised core Internet of Things (IoT) network and operating system.
According to Sprint senior vice president of IoT Ivo Rook, the network will be ready for 5G, with the network and OS to utilise Ericsson's IoT Accelerator platform.
"We are combining our IoT strategy with Ericsson's expertise to build a platform primed for the most demanding applications like artificial intelligence, edge computing, robotics, autonomous vehicles, and more with ultra-low-latency, the highest availability, and an unmatched level of security at the chip level," Rook said.
The IoT core network is designed to have low latency and high availability, the companies said, and by being distributed and virtualised they said it "reduces distance between the device generating the data and the IoT application processing it".
"Nodes are distributed right to the enterprise premise, if necessary, to support specific security, privacy, and latency requirements," they added.
The IoT OS then combines connectivity management, device management, data management, and managed services while "delivering immediate intelligence" on the data being collected.
"Configuration and updates of firmware and software are managed for each device. All data is managed securely with world-class security on the chip level. The IoT OS provides full subscription lifecycle management and monitoring of billing and usage data," Sprint and Ericsson said.
Across managed services, the companies are providing service assurance for all IoT devices and locations, such as "network operations centre monitoring, service resource fulfilment, cloud orchestration management, and application management".
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T-Mobile, which Sprint is aiming to merge with next year, had launched a narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) network in July across the United States, with 5G SVP and IoT business chief Dave Mayo telling ZDNet that the network covers 2.1 million square miles and approximately 320 million people.
T-Mobile's primary vendors were Ericsson and Nokia. It had initially trialled NB-IoT a year ago in partnership with the City of Las Vegas, Ericsson, and Qualcomm.
Mayo also provided ZDNet with an update on T-Mobile's 5G rollout, saying the purchase of Sprint rounds out its 5G spectrum play. Calling the Sprint deal "a watershed moment" for the company, Mayo said it means T-Mobile has the breadth of low band, the depth of millimetre-wave (mmWave) in urban areas, and a swathe of mid-band spectrum in metro areas.
Sprint last month announced that it is working with LG on delivering the first 5G smartphone in the US in the first half of 2019, following the launch of the carrier's 5G network at the beginning of next year.
Sprint CTO Dr John Saw told ZDNet during Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018 in February that his carrier has the best 5G spectrum, with Sprint choosing its initial six 5G markets of Los Angeles, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston due to their high traffic and its spectrum holdings. Sprint in May added New York City, Phoenix, and Kansas City to its 5G rollout roadmap.
T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray told ZDNet during MWC, meanwhile, that the carrier's 5G deployment across 30 cities this year -- Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, and Dallas are to have the service by 2019 -- is "moving well", with the 600MHz LTE rollout beginning last year and much of the hardware being 5G NR capable.
Ericsson acquires CENX; makes 5G call with Swisscom
Ericsson has also announced the acquisition of US service assurance technology company Cenx in a bid to boost its capabilities across network automation; and has partnered with Swisscom in completing a 5G call.
Cenx's 185 employees will join Ericsson, with the networking giant having held a minority stake in the company since 2012. Closed-loop automation will help Ericsson provide network slicing solutions to 5G customers, it said.
"Dynamic orchestration is crucial in 5G-ready virtualised networks. By bringing Cenx into Ericsson, we can continue to build upon the strong competitive advantage we have started as partners," Ericsson head of Solution Area OSS Mats Karlsson said.
The Swisscom partnership, meanwhile, saw the Swiss telco utilise Ericsson's core, radio, and transport hardware and software solutions; Ericsson's cloud packet core; a Swisscom 5G SIM card; and Intel's 5G Mobile Trial Platform for Europe's first multi-vendor 3GPP-compliant 5G NR data call across the 3.5GHz spectrum band.
Swisscom is aiming to have its 5G live across some areas of Switzerland by the end of 2018, with the carrier previously partnering with Ericsson on end-to-end network slicing and gigabit LTE and 5G.