This week, Ericsson and Sprint announced a ground-breaking collaboration to bring a dedicated IoT core network and operating system to market. Having been part of the development of this endeavor, I am very excited with the possibilities! Sprint’s strategy and vision is very well aligned to Ericsson, and my experience in the market over the years suggests that we truly have an opportunity to accelerate transformation based on IoT.

Democratizing IoT

When Sprint launched their IoT Factory in May 2018, one of the key pillars to the message was democratizing IoT. The Factory was designed to make it easy for small businesses and even consumers to take advantage of IoT with packaged solutions based on market needs. For developers, the Factory connects ‘builders’ with ideas to buyers who need them, and to the components they need to develop end to end solutions quickly.

At Ericsson, our strategy has evolved in a similar way, and I believe it’s the right direction. IoT is very complex with multiple elements that need to come together into a holistic solution.. It’s not enough to build applications — the application also needs to embed compelling partner offerings, which requires businesses to build stronger ecosystems around their product. One of the things we are bringing to the Sprint collaboration is the ecosystem we have been developing globally, and the packaged solutions sets that have come out of it. For example, we have packaged together solutions for connected environmental monitoring that make it easy for enterprises, cities, constructions sites and more to implement. This will help Sprint get those kinds of solutions to a broad customer set more quickly.

Another aspect of democratization is making it easy. Sprint’s new brand is leveraging Ericsson’s platform for IoT. Sticking with the environmental monitoring area as an example, if a city wants to deploy 10,000 new monitoring devices, it clearly needs to be simple. The portal we have developed makes it easy to onboard and manage new devices, even at a massive scale, and then analyze the data, facilitating decision making.

And finally, on the topic of democratization, we are extremely excited with this collaboration because it really opens the U.S. for Ericsson IoT more than we have thus far. The benefit is twofold. First, Sprint’s enterprise IoT customers will have access to the global market through the platform-related business arrangements. Second, Ericsson’s global customers will be able to reach the U.S. market through Sprint’s network. Creating a truly global marketplace is definitely democratizing IoT.

Bringing the network to the data

Sprint’s second big strategy pillar is all about immediate intelligence. With 5G coming, bringing with it extremely low latency on the radio link, many new use cases are possible. However, to truly implement those use cases will require reengineering the core network to bring core functions and processing closer to the sensors and machines at the edge. My friend Ivo Rook at Sprint likes to say that we are bringing the network to the data, and serving the immediate economy. And what I would add, is to reflect that many businesses are now building connected products that are network-native — they are born connected, they depend on connectivity — and understand that connectivity is part of the user experience.

This immediate intelligence concept is critical, especially for automotive and robotic use cases and evolving artificial intelligence (AI) applications. When analysis of data can happen at the edge, and AI is applied in real time, we can implement new processes.

Sprint is unique in developing a virtualized and distributed IoT core, truly putting the core functions as close to the data as needed, even spinning up core nodes within the enterprise premise itself. This will enable all new business models, especially when coupled with emerging private network features in both LTE and 5G. The network they are building will truly enable them to quickly and flexibly respond to new opportunities, balancing capital and operating costs with network requirements.

In summary

Ericsson has been part of the evolving Internet of Things market for over a decade — since IoT was M2M, before the staggering proliferation of connectivity options that we have today. With the market getting more complex, we are excited to become a core part of Sprint’s IoT ecosystem. Come and visit us in the Sprint booth at MWCA.