January 14, 2011 / 8:00 PM / 9 years ago

Sprint eyes machine-to-machine benefits in 2 years

* Sprint says two years before major M2M financial impact

* Sees M2M as billion of dollar business eventually

DETROIT, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Sprint Nextel (S.N) thinks it can make billions of dollars in revenue from wirelessly connecting devices such as in-car safety systems, but does not expect any material gains from doing this for two more years.

Sprint is making a “significant investment” in offering machine-to-machine services, which connects everything from electricity meter readers to health care monitors, the company’s chief executive, Dan Hesse, said after a Detroit Economic Club event on Friday.

“We’re a $36 billion company. We expect it to be a multi-billion dollar division of the company in a few years, but not yet,” Hesse told reporters.

It may be two more years before the segment is big enough to contribute in a significant way to the third-largest U.S. mobile service, Hesse said.

Sprint and its bigger rivals are eyeing wireless data as one of the next ways for them to grow now that 90 percent of Americans own cellphones.

Advanced phones such as Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) iPhone are big sources of demand for data services.

Top U.S. mobile service Verizon Wireless earlier this week said it will sell an iPhone that uses the same wireless technology that Sprint uses, laying groundwork for a future Sprint deal with Apple.

Hesse declined to comment on whether Sprint would sell the iPhone. Apple had said the Verizon Wireless agreement was not exclusive. Verizon Wireless is a venture of Verizon Communications (VZ.N) and Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L). (Reporting by Ben Klayman. Writing by Sinead Carew in New York. Editing by Robert MacMillan)

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