Cryptocurrency–Sprint, the United States’s fourth largest mobile network provider, has announced a partnership with blockchain startup NXM Labs. The companies are combining efforts to launch a 5G connected car platform that will utilize blockchain to improve rider features. Sprint joins the likes of Volkswagen (via IOTA), and Porsche in seeking ways to integrate the blockchain protocol made popular through cryptocurrency into improved vehicle function.
The cellular company has outlined a number of possible uses for integration in vehicles, including mobile WiFi and automobile health tracking,
The platform will provide on-demand, unlimited high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity, powered by the Sprint LTE network that’s ready for even faster speeds and more capacity when Sprint 5G service begins in the first half of 2019. Drivers and passengers can connect their favorite devices in their vehicle and choose to order cellular broadband by the day, week or month without relying on their smartphone plan.
Blockchain Adoption Vs. Cryptocurrency
Inevitably, the announcement of Sprint backing blockchain will bring both supporters and detractors to cryptocurrency. The common refrain among technology enthusiasts–but not investors–is in the distinct value of blockchain as an innovation to drive new industry, in addition to correcting existing inefficiencies. However, these blockchain proponents are also quick to point out the lack of real purpose for cryptocurrencies, and instead see the coins as speculative driven commodities that have made a handful of investors astronomically rich while leaving the rest of the market playing catch up. These detractors, time and again, are only proven half right. Crypto–in general–has failed to live up to the initial hype and expectation outlined throughout most of the past decade. But the currencies also fall under the typical exponential roadmap common to all disruptive technologies, from the internet to 3D printers. The scale of time necessary for widespread acceptance and adoption is inherently difficult to predict in terms of timing, but a familiar process when examined in stages.
Sprint choosing to back a blockchain startup, as opposed to an established cryptocurrency such as Ripple or Bitcoin, is a blow for cryptocurrency adoption in the short term, but a benefit to the larger scale of the industry. Greater blockchain use draws attention to cryptocurrency, while also increasing the chance of greater development interest in existing currency projects. Cryptocurrency is the vehicle for blockchain integration. You don’t build an engine each time you need transportation–you use an existing car. Most companies on the scale of Sprint are distancing themselves from a direct partnership with a coin, given the volatility of the cryptomarket, to protect their own brand and investor shares. But that perception could change as the market turns, or as domino-effect of adoption follows a group of industry-leaders backing cryptocurrency.
Sprint, in its press release confirming the partnership, has voiced a plan for blockchain that sounds remarkably familiar to other association with cryptocurrency, most notably that of IOTA targeting the world’s 8-billion-plus IoT devices,
“Through the power of blockchain technology, NXM provides an advanced level of security and advanced capabilities to vehicles that might not otherwise have it, even extending Wi-Fi,” said Ivo Rook, SVP of IoT for Sprint. “With the power of Sprint’s high-speed LTE and upcoming 5G network behind the technology, consumers will be able to experience the latest in automotive technology, even in early-model vehicles.”
It will remain to be seen how Sprint’s model evolves, and whether that includes incorporation, or at the very least accessibility, of cryptocurrency.