Sprint has been offering machine-to-machine communications more than a decade and is continuing to see real growth in the service, according to Tom Nelson, whole marketing and emerging solutions director for the carrier.

 Nelson, speaking on the sidelines at the CTIA Wireless 2012 show, said analysts who had predicted last year that M2M would be one of the industry’s biggest growth generators are now saying that growth is taking place. Sprint, eyeing that expansion, created its emerging solutions group nearly three years  ago to bring together the expertise it had been developing.

 Potential enterprise customers are interested in the return on investment from M2M, which Nelson said can be driven by gaining new business revenue or by cutting costs. ROI can usually been found in one of those two areas, he said.

 The biggest hurdle for an enterprise to use M2M solutions has been the task of stitching together its own solutions, Nelson said, which is where Sprint comes in. The carrier can offer end-to-end M2M solutions either from its internal expertise or through its partners, he said.

 “Sprint doesn’t just provide connectivity, but is an enabler of the ecosystem,” he said. The carrier opened its M2M Collaboration Center in Burlingame, Calif., two years ago as an interactive lab to help its customers develop and test solutions. Its year-old Sprint Command Center, a web-based portal, allows businesses to manage connected devices.

 One area that is attracting M2M services is the utilities industry, Nelson said, because of the need to remotely monitor utility grids, including meters. Telematics also is growing because only 4 percent of today’s vehicles are connected but the expectation is that vehicles will be connected for safety, diagnostics and even insurance purposes.

 Sprint has partnered with Chrysler to provide wireless communications for the auto manufacturers Uconnect program. The carrier’s radios also a built into an Audiovox aftermarket solution called OBD2 which provides wireless connectivity for vehicle diagnostics and performance information. That can be used for “user-based insurance” coverage that rates premiums based on driving performance. Also, the telematics provider Aeris uses Sprint’s network for communications in Hyundai’s Blue Link system.

 M2M also is showing up more in such things as digital signage uses for information along highways or for advertising. It also is used for signs associated with point of sale terminals, including many Red Box video rental outlets.

 “Wireless is well-adapted to all these purposes,” Nelson said.