Sprint in the News as LTE Deployments Accelerate Worldwide

Carl Weinschenk

It’s been a tough week. But it’s finally Friday and time to check out some of the important data and telecom news from the past five days.

Sprint Continues LTE Deployments

There was a good deal of coverage this week of moves by wireless carriers. The goal is to secure wireless spectrum. Sprint, in more than one way, is in the middle of the action: Dish Network and Softbank are bidding for the carrier. At the same time, Verizon’s efforts to acquire spectrum leases from Clearwire also have a Sprint spin, since it owns part of Clearwire and is in the process of acquiring the rest.

It’s a bit of a muddle. In the midst of this back and forth, Sprint said that it is expanding LTE to 21 markets. The announcement, which CNET said was made by CEO Dan Hesse at the Competitive Carriers Association show in New Orleans, was headlined by Los Angeles. The story has the full list, which also includes Memphis and Charlotte, NC. Hesse, the site reports, said that 4G is available in other cities, including New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., on a pre-launch basis.

4G rollouts tend to move quickly once the carrier has its ducks in a row. Despite that, the announcements certainly will do nothing but help Sprint’s real and perceived value.

… As the Entire 4G Industry Expands

Also on the subject of LTE, ABI Research released an interesting report on LTE base station deployments. The top line is that investment in these devices – which also are called radio access networks (RANs) – will expand by 82.4 percent this year and will hit $12.3 billion.

What is equally interesting is that the increases are partly being fueled by growth in under-developed countries. Developed areas, such as North American and Western Europe, will trend toward more investments in LTE-Advanced and small cell technology, while the undeveloped regions may focus on more basic and established technology.

This is reminiscent of the ongoing rollout of smartphones. It makes sense that cheaper and less fully featured, commodity-type devices would be common in less developed areas. The thread between smartphones and RANs simply is that what is right for developed and undeveloped areas is different.

More Google Fiber

The industry is not yet at the point that the announcement of a Google Fiber location is not news, but the pace of the new locales is such that they soon could become commonplace. The latest site – Provo, UT – was named this week by Google.

That makes four cites so far: Kansas City; Olathe, Kan.; Austin and Provo. The Provo locale still must be approved by the city, according to eWeek. In this case, the approach will be to buy the existing iProvo network and upgrade it to Google’s standards. It’s important to note that three of the four cites have active technology and startup communities.

Video Surveillance and the Marathon Bombing

As this post is being written, the final hours – hopefully – of the disturbing tragedy in Boston are unfolding as law enforcement officials look for the second of two bombing suspects. Yesterday, I posted on concerns about the interrelationship between cellular networks and terrorism.

InformationWeek, by coincidence, was conducting remote interviews from the marathon as the Boston Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events rolled out an operations dashboard from IBM. The story is timely and offers a lot of great detail.

The city obviously had an awesome amount of video to sift through to find the suspects. The video likely came from three sources: private citizens, stores and other businesses along the marathon route and from the municipalities. It would be interesting to learn if advanced filtering techniques were used.

It seems likely, simply because they identified suspects so quickly. In a digitized environment, investigators can work much quicker. For instance, if a red car – or a man in a backwards-turned baseball cap – is identified as being suspicious, it is possible to instantaneously identify all the instances in which that car or capped man appears in the video.

Thought-Provoking Research from the UT

And, finally, the MIT Technology Review reports … Oh, well, I’ll just let writer Susan Young explain:

In collaboration with Roozbeh Jafari, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas, Dallas, Samsung researchers are testing how people can use their thoughts to launch an application, select a contact, select a song from a playlist, or power up or down a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. While Samsung has no immediate plans to offer a brain-controlled phone, the early-stage research, which involves a cap studded with EEG-monitoring electrodes, shows how a brain-computer interface could help people with mobility issues complete tasks that would otherwise be impossible.

This is fabulous. Many people, for one reason or another, can’t voice commands or manually manipulate a keypad or keyboard. And, once the future shock element wears off a bit, it makes perfect sense: Thoughts are electrical impulses and can be registered. Determining what the thinker wants – to hear an opera, contact a doctor or be fed – seems to a layperson to be a near impossibility. But if the history of technology teaches us anything, it’s that what seems beyond our reach today becomes run of the mill tomorrow.

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