Speaking at the fall 2011 Comptel Plus Conference on the topic of emerging technologies, Todd Rowley, vice president of 4G and business development at Sprint, said Sprint's enhanced 4G wireless isn't just for mobile devices. It can also be used as an "alternative to existing T-1 or smaller circuits" and, in fact, ranging in use between 3Mbps to 6Mbps, this 4G wireless service would be faster than a T-1 line is today at 1.5Mbps.
The use of 4G wireless as a T-1 replacement is among "a few of the wireless replacement options we're developing," said Rowley. He said this is now being trialed by some Sprint customers in the retail sector, and Sprint is finalizing how it could work with its wholesale business customers, basically resellers, to be able to sell this as a service.
Rowley said the Sprint 4G wireless as T-1 replacement works through use of an antenna-based network device simply called the "outdoor unit" (ODU) made by Cisco for the purpose.
The Cisco ODU device, positioned on the roof or side of a building, is an Ethernet or MPLS connection point for the corporate network of the enterprise customer. The Cisco ODU can establish a secure and managed wireless connection from there to the nearest Sprint cell tower. One idea in all this is that Sprint's 3G wireless acts as a backup.
Since 4G wireless is by its nature a shared network, Sprint would need to make sure bandwidth remains available wirelessly for business customers relying on it as a substitute for a T-1 line. This makes it a different challenge than wireline networks, Rowley acknowledged. But he said he hoped in the next 60 to 90 days, Sprint will be able to settle on exactly how this type of 4G wireless as T-1 substitute could be made available through Sprint's wholesale customers who act as resellers.