Sprint shows off 4G video apps

Sprint shows live video streaming, connected home entertainment, medical monitoring systems among the highlights

Sprint had a simple message to deliver to Boston today: Its WiMAX network is up and ready for business.

BOSTON -- Sprint had a simple message to deliver to Boston today: Its WiMAX network is up and ready for business.

Sprint makes a case for enterprise WiMAX

During an event to celebrate the launch of its Sprint 4G services in Boston today, Sprint showed off a wide variety of business and home applications that ran over its WiMAX network, including applications for public safety, telehealth, home office and retail.

Sprint's WiMAX network, which achieved speeds of around 4Mbps on average in the Copley Westin in Boston, was utilized by many applications to show its potential for streaming live video feeds. Sprint partner Crime Point showed off how it could stream live footage from a security camera placed at a construction site in Annapolis, Md., so that it could be monitored 24 hours a day by public safety authorities. The camera system allows public officials to quickly set up surveillance cameras without having to hook up any wired connections in the nearby area, as the WiMAX network covers a wide enough radius to send footage directly from the camera back to the Police Department.

Another live video streaming application was American TeleCare's LifeView patient self-help station that included a Web camera that allowed patients to take footage of themselves at home and transmit it live to their doctors and clinicians. The LifeView station can also take regular readings of key health metrics, such as heartbeat, blood pressure and temperature, and send them along to a clinic on a daily basis. Although LifeView works over both 3G and 4G connections, American TeleCare is banking that 4G technologies like WiMAX and LTE will give it high-quality video streaming that will let more patients get diagnosed from home.

And finally, Sprint showed how its WiMAX network could stream films and television shows from content delivery sites such as Netflix directly onto home television sets. The centerpiece of the home entertainment setup was the Sprint Overdrive mobile hotspot that takes data from Sprint's WiMAX network and then sends it out to other devices in the area as a Wi-Fi signal. The overdrive can support up to five devices at once, so you can have your smartphone, television and tablet all receiving data from the same source.

The video streaming quality for the Overdrive home entertainment setup was significantly stronger than the live video streams taken from the Annapolis construction site, as companies like NetFlix often have far more of their data cached on content delivery networks that can push out data more efficiently than a live video feed going over the Web.

During an introductory speech at the start of the show, Sprint Business's regional vice president Kim Green-Kerr said Sprint hopes to differentiate itself from its competitors through the sheer amount of spectrum it holds. She noted that Sprint holds so much spectrum that it can support both WiMAX and LTE networks in the future if it chooses to do so. She said Sprint owns between 120MHz and 150MHz of 4G spectrum per city in the United States, while competing carriers own anywhere between 12MHz and 46MHz per city.

Sprint and its partners in Clearwire have so far built out a WiMAX network that covers 50 markets and an estimated 60 million people. By the end of the year, Clearwire has said it will have its WiMAX services online in every major U.S. market, covering around 120 million people.

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