Earlier this week, I visited Sprint's M2M Collaboration Center in Burlingame, Calif. M2M, or machine-to-machine, is a system for wireless communication between devices without any humans involved. An M2M infrastructure can enable a lot of things such as remote management of a delivery company's vehicle fleet, smart meters, wireless point-of-sale transactions, electric vehicle charging, and remote monitoring of in-home health care.
Sprint doesn't actually build the related M2M devices--just like it doesn't make any cell phones--but it does build the wireless network on which the devices run. It's about the same network that powers your cell phone, but it's doing a lot of different things.
The biggest room at the facility houses the equipment needed to run the various systems. It's not quite as complex as the Verizon Wireless Super Switch that we toured earlier this year, but it reminds you that even a wireless network is powered by more than a few wires.
Related story: Sprint VP on machines talking to machines (podcast)