By Don Bishop…
Spark. What a name. What. A. Name.
When Sprint chose the name Sprint Spark for its network capability for enhanced wireless peak data speeds of up to 60 Mbps, maybe the company did not know the name evokes the earliest mode of wireless communications while embracing the latest. For those of the wrinkle-free (faces), the word wireless has no meaning other than today’s commercial service for untethered communications using smartphones and tablets.
One hundred years ago, the word “wireless” referred to what then was an amazing development: the ability to send telegrams without using telegraph wires. Hence, “wireless.” Telegram? What’s that?
A telegram was a text message sent by wire. Today’s text messages are short, and the shorter, the better, it seems. So it was in the early days of telegrams when bandwidth was extremely limited, whether on wires or by wireless. Another echo of the past: Twitter-length messages by wire and by wireless.
And it just so happens that in those early days, wireless signals were generated by sparks. Electricity would be made to jump a
gap to make a spark and thereby create radio waves. The early transmitters were called “spark gap” transmitters. Wireless operators who sent and received messages often were nicknamed “Sparks” or “Sparky.” Ships at sea and those sailing the Great Lakes were among the earliest users of wireless. Heinrich Hertz conclusively proved the existence of the electromagnetic waves used for wireless by using a spark transmitter in 1887.
Twenty years ago or so, when the word “wireless” replaced the word “radio” and mostly replaced the word “cellular” in describing commercial service for untethered communications, it was an interesting throwback across 80 years of telecommunications history. Now, Sprint has reached even further back in using the word “spark” to encompass a service it intends to support a new generation of online gaming, virtual reality, advanced cloud services and other applications requiring high bandwidth.
Sprint Spark now is available in Austin, Fort Worth and San Antonio, Texas; Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, Fla.; and in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. Sprint plans to deploy Sprint Spark in about 100 of America’s largest cities during the next three years.
“When we bring Sprint Spark into a market, it is like trading up to the fastest sports car on the showroom floor,” said Stephen Bye, Sprint’s chief technology officer.
I wonder when Detroit will introduce a new car called a horseless carriage.