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Carrier WiFi

Sprint Starts Big Enterprise Push With WiFi

Sprint is working with Ruckus Wireless to offer managed WiFi to enterprises, but Ruckus executives suggest it's just the start of the carrier's much grander plans for enterprise services.

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s Business Managed Services Group teamed up with Ruckus Wireless Inc. back in May to begin selling its full suite of Smart WiFi products to enterprises, with the most traction coming from the education and retail verticals in the past eight months. Both David Callisch, Ruckus VP of Marketing, and Joe Hlavin, Ruckus' director of carrier sales, say this is just the beginning of what Sprint has in store for the enterprise.

"On the commercial side, we're a piece of a larger offering Sprint is putting together," Hlavin says. "They have grander plans coming out for how they want to bring a competitive differentiator service offering to the enterprise."

The Ruckus men told Light Reading this around the same time reports came out that Sprint is looking to revive the defunct Nextel brand in the enterprise, offering a premium fixed and mobile broadband service as it originally did with Clearwire. Sources tell TechCrunch that Sprint's big enterprise push could start as soon as the first quarter and will also include blending its two prepaid arms, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA Inc. (NYSE: VM). (See: Nextel Drags on Sprint as 4G Push Continues.)

Callisch and Hlavin were not familiar with Sprint's branding plans -- and Sprint did not respond to a request for comment, but the timing makes sense for Sprint to go big in the enterprise to work to regain the customers it lost when it shut down Nextel. More managed services are likely to be a part of that push.

"2014 should be a good year for Sprint in that area -- managed services," Hlavin says.

Sprint has long had a presence in the enterprise market, but most of its attention of late has been focused on its Network Vision upgrades, which include deploying its multimode LTE network, Sprint Spark, and filling in the gaps with small cells from Samsung Corp. and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). Ruckus is currently only working with the carrier on the enterprise front, but Hlavin says the WiFi vendor is also talking to Sprint about building out a complementary carrier WiFi strategy. (See: Sprint Plans to Add 4G LTE Urban Heft in 2014 and Sprint Has Samsung 4G LTE Small Cells: Analyst.)

"That's why I'm in Reston [Virginia] all the time, he says. "It's where Sprint's LTE guys are."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Sarah Thomas 1/3/2014 | 9:45:12 AM
Ruckus & Sprint To be clear, I spoke with the Ruckus execs right before TechCrunch reported about Sprint reviving the Nextel brand. I followed up to see if the two were connected, but they weren't familar with Sprint's plans for Nextel. Even so, I think it's pretty clear enterprise is going to be -- and should be -- a big focus for Sprint soon. I have a note in to Sprint to find out more, but if they aren't talking now, I bet they will be soon.

 
Sarah Thomas 1/3/2014 | 9:46:53 AM
Enterprise T-Mobile has been making a bigger deal of its enterprise strategy too. I spoke with them about it back at CTIA. http://www.lightreading.com/ctia-t-mobile-takes-uncarrier-attitude-to-work/d/d-id/702842

And, AT&T is all about enterprise APIs and development. They'll be talking about it at their developers' conference on Monday for sure. 

Seems like a good time for Sprint to make more noise too.
Sarah Thomas 1/3/2014 | 10:11:09 AM
Managed services Would also be good to get a discussion going around what WiFi Managed Services (or non-WIFi related) Sprint is exploring. Neither Sprint nor Ruckus is saying quite yet. What do you think makes sense for them? Looks like they offer the standard apps, MDM, and WiFi now, but what else can/should they add on?
Carol Wilson 1/3/2014 | 11:15:21 AM
Re: Managed services I think WiFi as a managed service is intruguiing but it will be interesting to see what enterprises expect and what a mobile network operator like Sprint can deliver in terms of delivering on consistent quality and bandwidth for WiFi coverage. 

At minimum, an enterprise would expect top-notch site coverage and a guaranteed level of throughput for the number of expected devices, but also security for the offer, I'm thinking. 
Sarah Thomas 1/3/2014 | 11:17:03 AM
Re: Managed services True. I wonder what kind of SLAs they have in place with current customers. How they respond to outages and issues is also really important, but that's true for all service providers.
Phil_Britt 1/4/2014 | 9:40:15 AM
Re: Managed services Carol, you are absolutely right. With security a ongoing concern, particularly with the growing proliferation of BYOD policies, management would (or at least should) insist on some type of security protection before agreeing to any such service.
Sarah Thomas 1/6/2014 | 12:04:30 PM
Re: Managed services Think it would or should be different than the security they offer on the wireless side? Extra provisions for unlicensed spectrum?
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