IEEE Tour to Sprint’s M2M Collaboration Center & Fiber Optic POP in Burlingame, CA

On May 29, 2013, 30 IEEE members and guests enjoyed an exceptionally informative visit to the Sprint Machine to Machine (M2M) Collaboration Center in Burlingame, CA. Our Sprint hosts were Samantha Jordan and Kris Philippe.

The Sprint M2M Collaboration Center brings together Sprint partners, equipment providers, customers and employees to rapidly prototype, test and launch concepts and new ideas. The public and private labs (described below) enables Sprint’s partner companies to accelerate time to market (and thereby realize revenue faster) and to support test cases.

Note: Sprint Wireless Network Offerings:
Sprint offers WiMAX through a reseller agreement with Sprint.  They provide their own 2G, 3G-CDMA, 3G+ via EVDO and 4G-LTE wireless network services.  Sprint may also resell Clearwire’s version of LTE in the 2500MHz BRS band.  The March 6, 2013 seminar on Sprint’s Network Vision may be downloaded from the ComSocSCV website at:

We also had a guided tour of the adjacent fiber optic point of presence (POP) building, which is one of several major nodes on Sprint’s Northern CA fiber optic network (the others are in SJ, SF and Sacramento).  Thanks to Steve for his down to earth explanation of all the equipment and fiber optic cables/jumpers we saw in that room!  See summary below.

Inside the Collaboration Center:
The facilities available within the Center include:
•GPS (location information) distribution
•Core router/switch infrastructure
•Tabletop RF isolation
•Secured private work areas (4 private labs where IP is protected)
•Collaborative work areas (public lab with multiple vendor equipment)

Collaboration Center Public and private labs contain:
•Test equipment and RF chambers
•Cabled and native wireless access
•Solution design and engineering resources
•Innovation and collaboration rooms

Within the Center, there is also a separate area called “Solutions Showcase” where various types of proto-types and proof of concept equipment/devices are  shown and demo’d.

M2M Application examples of Collaboration Center Lab Engagements:
Many have resulted a direct revenue impact for the partner company. The applications include: Digital Signage, Retail Analytics, Retail Stores, Transportation Infrastructure, Utility Management, Public Sector Camera Solution, VTS Built Tablet, National Health Provider,and  International Utility Monitoring

Sprint 2G (CDMA/1xRTT*) for M2M Applications Still Very Viable!
According to a newly released white paper by Heavy Reading, 2G technology is a widely used for M2M applications requiring low bandwidth, and 2G use is expected to increase substantially in terms of M2M subscription volumes. Sprint’s 2G network is based on CDMA/1xRTT* in the 800MHz ESMR and 1900MHz PCS bands.
* 1x stands for one times the number of 1.25MHz channels, while RTT stands for radio transmission technology.

Sprint’s Open Enablement Principles:
First and foremost, make it easy to do business with the company. Multiple Sprint teams from different organizations and business units come to the Center to support partner test and development.
Some of the core competencies of the Center are to:
  • Offer new tools and capabilities
  • Enable development through a universal framework and via partners
  • Embrace, advocate and leverage open operating systems
  • Accelerate speed to market
  • Support and manage the ecosystem
  • Ensure enabled services work in the most efficient manner
  • Develop polices to guarantee “best in class” customer experience

Sprint’s goal is to help all partner companies realize increased value through:
  • Accelerate time to market to realize potential revenue quicker (e.g. from 9 months to 4 months)
  • Enablement and choice of 2G/3G/4G networks and related features
  • Working with Sprint on the proper data plan for M2M communications (it’s not at all based on commercial cellular network data plans. Instead, it is a custom plan for each M2M partner company, depending on their bandwith and and latency/priority traffic requirements
  • Sprint provides it’s lab resources and applications engineers (at the Center) free of charge to partner companies. They hope that will establish sufficient trust, so that the company developing and/or testing their M2M products/proto-types will use Sprint as their wireless carrier of choice.
Sprint believes that a “deep partnership” will help companies develop/test products and improve their brand name recognition. With new partner company products and increased services available to end users, Sprint, it’s partners, and customers will all win. We agree!

References for the Collaboration Center

Inside Sprint’s Burlingame POP:
The Point Of Presence (POP) is where the fiber optic based long distance network adds and drops off traffic (voice/data/video) from/to the local exchange carrier or large private company.  For example, local AT&T traffic is carried over Sprint’s optical network and added/dropped at this POP.
The Sprint Burlingame POP is a node on the company’s SONET OC48 ring (BLSR) that interconnects Stockton, San Francisco, San Jose and Burlingame, CA.   There are a total of 120 fiber optic strands terminated at the Sprint- Burlingame POP.  We were told that the average bandwidth utilization was quite high at 70 to 80% of information carrying capacity (using the payload within the SONET frames).  We also saw a generator and a bank of 48V DC batteries to keep traffic flowing for up to 8 hours after a power outage from the local electric utility company.

Ciena Corestream DWDM Add Drop Multiplexors (ADM) and Transceivers are the SONET equipment installed within this POP.  Corestream was said to use short reach optical interconnects.  There were no IP Routers or Ethernet switches installed  (those are located at the larger Stockton POP).  So we assume all fiber optic traffic into and out of the POP is SONET rather than OTN or Ethernet over DWDM (native mode Carrier Ethernet).