Smart grids are making their way across America in the form of a massive stimulus package from the US government, prompting mobile operators, as well as wireless technology vendors, smart meter makers and related companies, to jostle for position to grab a share of the market.
While it has been relatively quiet in the past – even as its competitors such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T are rapidly shoring up partnerships – Sprint is finally staking out a claim in the market place, citing a long history of M2M applications and utility relationships.
“For many years, Sprint has been supplying embedded CDMA & iDEN based communication technologies for a variety of machine to machine (M2M) applications within the energy and water industries. Today, Sprint takes the lead again with innovative telecommunications products, competitive data services, secure IT solutions, and strong partnerships to support a wide range of utility automation initiatives in meeting the U.S. energy challenges of the 21st century,” the operator said.
Sprint’s not coy about why its in the market, and obviously sees the opportunity of capitalising on the recent spate of projects launched in the US. Specifically, it is well aware of the funding that is now available as a result of the 2009 ARRA “Stimulus” funding opportunities offered by the Department of Energy under the Smart Grid Investment and Development Grant Programs. It intends to play a key role as a telecoms provider in helping to achieve the US national smart grid objective.
“While our competition is just recognizing this space, Sprint has been supporting utility automation for years and most recently the Smart Grid ecosystem, as a key wireless and wireline provider,” says Paget Alves, President – Business Markets Group, Sprint. “Sprint has been at the forefront of advanced telecommunications technologies, a strong proponent of interoperable communications, and provider of secure network connectivity and advanced IT solutions necessary for the operation of the electric Smart Grid today. As the wireless partner of choice for some of the largest utilities in the country, we continue to work with key industry partners to offer utilities innovative solutions to manage their critical communication infrastructure, deliver real-time data services and assist them in achieving optimal energy delivery and service quality.”
According to the statement, Sprint is now focused in supporting US electric customers with their Smart Grid initiatives, including key applications such as Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), SCADA, Demand-Response (DR) Distribution Management System (DMS) and M2M applications. Sprint goes on to highlight its position as a commercial carrier operating multiple digital networks and delivering 2.5G, 3G and 4G mobile broadband services, and the capabilities that its infrastructure offers in supporting utility initiatives. At the same time, it says its Converged Network Services group can now support utilities with customised network solutions and extended coverage.
“With the recent focus of President Obama and his team on energy independence and Smart Grid initiatives, Sprint has become even more engaged with electric utilities as well as government agencies, industry alliances and key technology partners in this space,” said Alves. “To help facilitate the extensive ecosystem of smart devices, enable key application providers and provide secure IP based communications solutions, Sprint also offers the most comprehensive Open Device Initiative of any carrier, with the sole focus of certifying wireless devices quickly at minimal costs to our partners and meeting the needs of our utility customers in this critical time of transition.”
SPRINT’S OWN ECO INITIATIVES
As part its Smart Grid leadership claim, Sprint also spend some time outlining its own environmental initiatives, which include:
Use of Hydrogen Fuel Cells: Sprint was recently awarded $7.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to expand its use of hydrogen fuel cells as back-up power to cell sites on their network. Currently Sprint has over 250 hydrogen fuel cells deployed at cell sites across their network.
Wireless Recycling: Sprint’s industry leading wireless reuse and recycling program were created to prevent thousands of tons of wireless equipment from entering the waste stream. Since 2001, Sprint has collected more than 17 million phones to help conserve resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent air and water pollution. Sprint’s goal, an industry first, is to achieve a 90 percent recycling collection rate. This ambitious goal, set for 2017, translates to Sprint collecting nine phones for reuse and recycling for every 10 phones that we sell. Early results are promising: In 2008, Sprint’s wireless recycling collection rate stood at 34 percent, three times the national average.
Eco Friendly Products and Services: Sprint recently announced the availability of Samsung Reclaim(TM) on August 16th, the first phone in the U.S. constructed from eco-friendly bio-plastic materials. Made from 80 percent recyclable materials, Samsung Reclaim is a feature-rich messaging phone that offers environmentally conscious customers a perfect blend of responsibility without sacrificing the latest in network speeds and must-have features. Sprint is also the first major U.S. wireless carrier to offer a solar-powered cell phone charger and also offers cell phone carrying cases made from 100% recycled plastic water bottles. Sprint also offers a suite of enterprise location-based applications that can help businesses reduce their impact on climate change through more accurate management of fleets, cargo and assets.
Sprint also has a green-theme website documenting its sustainability initiatives, including online billing and payment, recycling programs and other green tips.