Sprint Helps 2010 Census Go Wireless

When the government conducts its census next year, Sprint will be providing wireless equipment, coverage and secure connections to workers out in the field.

Managing telecommunications for the census is no simple task, of course. The company estimates that it will need to provide census-takers at Harris Corporation with 500 MPLS sites, 150,000 active telemetry wireless devices and about 1,500 managed devices and mobile broadband connection cards. Bill White, Sprint's vice president of federal programs, says that the 150,000 telemetry devices were custom-built by HTC and were wirelessly connected by Sprint to help tie together the 450 local census offices that Harris is operating.

The big goal is for Sprint to provide census workers with secure connections that will allow them to wirelessly transmit sensitive data over a secure connection to the Harris Field Data Collection Automation (FDCA) database for safe storage. White says that one of the big advantages that Sprint has in helping take the census is its private wireless network that allows government and enterprise users to securely link between their wireless devices and their central server without using the public Internet.

"One of the unique aspects of our wireless capabilities is the ability to securely transmit information from a wireless handheld computer to a server farm without using the public Internet," he says. "With traditional wireless data services, once information leaves the device it goes over the Web."

Sprint says that its coverage capabilities give it another advantage in tackling the census, as its wireless capabilities "exceeded" the Harris's program requirements. For areas where the carrier's wireless coverage isn't as strong, it's implementing an IP dial-up service that will provide users with a secure, albeit antiquated, way of transmitting data.

"We've found a way of doing this that uses both old and new technology to make connections," says White. "The type of information that is sent through the census computers tends to be short bursts of data stream. While we do have a dial-up service available, we're confident that our wireless services cover a large majority of the country."

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