By: Gigaom
Sprint looks to Israeli startups for the next wave of LTE innovation
Israeli mobile networking startups are on a hot streak right now. Sprint wants to tap into that talent pool so it's launching a new LTE acceleration lab project in Tel Aviv.

Sprint has joined the growing ranks of carriers searching for the next big mobile networking technology in Israel. Sprint is working with the Israel Mobile & Media Association (IMA) to found an LTE acceleration in Tel Aviv, where it can collaborate with emerging 4G infrastructure and application startups.

Israel has a thriving startup scene in general, but in particular it’s been a hotbed for mobile infrastructure startups, which have built off radio technologies developed by the Israeli military. The small country produced numerous broadband radio specialists like Alvarion and Ceragon Networks, but lately the startup scene has shifted its focus from building radios to developing network optimization technologies, producing companies like Intucell Systems, eVolution Networks, Flash Networks, Traffix Systems, Vasona Networks and WeFi.

The world took notice of those developments. Last week, Cisco Systems announced it is buying self-healing networking company Intucell for $475 million, while F5 Networks bought network-signaling outfit Traffix in February for an undisclosed amount. Carriers are also getting in on the action. In 2011, AT&T opened up one of its Foundry innovation centers in Ra’anana, Israel, to work directly with regional startups and developers. The IMA also is collaborating with Orange, Telefónica and Tata DoCoMo on other lab projects.

The Sprint project, however, is specifically focused on LTE. Though Sprint didn’t reveal too many details on the lab setup, it appears to be setting up a 4G test network in Tel Aviv, over which network startups can fine-tune their technology and developers can run their apps. Sprint, however, said it wouldn’t attempt to dictate what the startups do in the lab. Instead, Sprint said it is just providing the tools and network frame, while the participants are free to pursue whatever field they want.

“As a complement to our efforts to unlock innovation in the United States, this Sprint-sponsored LTE acceleration lab will allow startups and developers in Israel valuable access to dramatically speed up their time to market,” Sprint CTO Stephen Bye said in a statement.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock user Jim Barber

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