Sprint pursues embedded devices with M2M DataSmart deal

The M2M partnerships keep rolling in. After a summer that saw AT&T (NYSE:T)partner with Jasper Wireless and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ, NYSE:VOD) and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) form a joint venture to target the mobile telematics market, Sprint (NYSE:S) kicked off by announcing a multi-year partnership with M2M DataSmart, a machine-to-machine service aggregator thatspecializes in tailoring airtime plans for start-ups with new and unique applications.

Sprint is no stranger to new embedded-device business models. The carrier’s 3G network powers the ‘whispernet’ for the Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), the first mass market consumer device to use a non-traditional data billing plan. Sprint is also one of the largest wireless wholesalers in the industry, and many of its mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) focus on M2M.

The partnership between DataSmart and Sprint, however, appears to be more than the typical MVNO deal. Sprint said it and DataSmart will attack the market together, expanding Sprint’s focus from the larger embedded device customers like Amazon, Ford Works Solutions, and DriveCamto the growing number of entrepreneurial start-ups that want to take advantage of M2M. DataSmart not only resells Sprint airtime, it works with customers to select the appropriate M2M modules, provides test accounts and helps certify new devices on the Sprint network. In many cases, it helps those customers engineer the applications themselves. Such an integration role could help move Sprint from primarily being an network access provider for M2M customers to a full-fledged customs solutions provider.

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