Sunset flip: Sprint offers 2G guarantee for M2M

Apr 23, 2013

Sprint has signaled its 2G M2M intent by announcing a deal with Swiss-based cellular modem company, u-blox, which should enable Sprint to chase GSM customers as well as CDMA ones (from AT&T) thus making it viable for Sprint to keep its 2G CDMA network up and running for M2M applications well past 2017: the year AT&T has announced it's going to turn its CDMA network off. (see - 2G sunsetting plans may leave M2M out in the cold).

Up until now 2G (both GSM and CDMA) has been the dominant M2M cellular network choice in the US because of lower module costs and because, for most applications, only very slow speeds were and are needed. That's left a large number of 2G modules out in the market and many of those will still have a useful life in front of them by 2017, which is the date that AT&T announced it was going to 'sunset' its 2G network, releasing the spectrum for "refarming" for LTE.

Sprint has committed to keep its 2G network capability so that, it says, M2M customers will have a choice and can pick their time to migrate to 3 or 4G. To reinforce this position Sprint has been making much of its Network Vision strategy - 2G connectivity with the security and performance advantages of CDMA, while also supporting a smooth path to 3G and 4G, it claims.

As part of that commitment - and in the hope of luring customers from all the US GSM networks as well as from AT&T's CDMA network - Sprint's deal with u-blox will allow the GSM users on other networks to migrate to Sprint's CDMA alternative by adopting the u-blox FW75-C200 modem: "a pin-compatible replacement for widely used GSM modem MC75i and its variants," says u-blox.

That means, claims Sprint, they won't be forced (perhaps, at some unspecified time yet to be announced) to adopt more expensive 3G or 4G modems as other network operators begin sunsetting their GSM networks to refarm the frequencies.

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