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Sprint Magic Box could support IoT

Sprint said its new Magic Box small cells could be a foot in the door for future IoT solutions in the home. The carrier’s COO for technology, Günther Ottendorfer, said the internet of things is “certainly something we are thinking about” in the context of wireless small cells.

“Most of the things we are looking into are very, very tiny hardware add-ons to the platform,” Ottendorfer said. “We have created a very flexible platform for our LTE network here that can be … for IoT around it or can easily be added with other functionality and can also easily further develop into a 5G world,” Ottendorfer said.

The Magic Box small cells have been tested in both home and business settings, and Ottendorfer said they work well in both environments. Sprint now sees enterprise users as a major market for the small cells, but they were originally conceived by Sprint and SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son as a solution for home users.

“We saw that with the densification of our network and getting good coverage where people really need it, we need to get into the home,” Ottendorder said. “That started the whole idea in the mind of our team and the SoftBank team. And then Masa, as a visionary, said ‘Let’s try to develop this box that does coverage from the home, for the home, but also to the outside.’ And that started the whole project for us. … We believe that this Magic Box really gives us an opportunity to create a great platform in the home that can be used for multi-purposes in the future,” he said.

Ottendorfer said Sprint is currently focused on the primary goal of improving radio coverage indoors and outdoors with the new small cells. The carrier said the Magic Box signal can extend coverage 100 meters outside a building, improving street–level network performance. Sprint has carved out part of its Band 41 spectrum to provide wireless backhaul for the small cells. Ottendorfer said this means the Magic Box units won’t interfere with the rest of its network.

“What we can’t have is interference between our macro network and the backhaul for the Magic Boxes, because we want to put these Magic Boxes everywhere,” he said.

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