AT&T Wants to be Your Connected Everything

by Matt Klassen on January 7, 2016

nextgov-mediumFor the last several years AT&T has used the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to tout its incremental network upgrades or its speedier connection speeds, but this year things have changed, a sign that Ma Bell has recognized that the entire telecom industry is in the midst of a radical paradigm shift, and the company needs to change along with it.

You see, for AT&T, CES this year is all about connected cars, health trackers, and the futuristic smart cities; a picture of an Internet of Things where every device talks to every other device in an effort to serve their human masters that much better, and AT&T at the heart of it all, powering your connected everything existence.

The shift comes as part of the evolution of the wireless industry, one that will see the likes of Verizon and AT&T become so much more than your local wireless provider, expanding their purview to include everything needed to create a cohesive IoT reality, and the wireless connectivity to control it all.

This isn’t your grandfather’s AT&T anymore, that’s for sure. “This is a new AT&T,” Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobile and Business Solutions, said in his keynote address. To that end, gone are the days where AT&T is only concerned with growing its telecom or mobile business, its vision for the future is much more holistic than any one platform or any one device.

In fact, the company made it clear that the primary focus of this new AT&T will be not only providing the connectivity framework needed to power our connected everything future, but on creating the framework for the a much grander future that includes connected cities, with smart infrastructure that communicates with connected homes and connected cars; a comprehensive, cohesive digital framework that we’ll all soon become hopelessly dependent on to exist.

But AT&T had more in store. Given that the vast majority of AT&T’s new connections in the last quarter came from connected cars, it’s a clear sign that automobiles are the new wireless frontier. To that end, AT&T is working with Ford to connect the automakers’ fleet of vehicles, bringing connectivity to the roads (yet without self-driving technology, I’m really not sure of the point of it right now).

Finally AT&T played up the possibilities that IoT would have in various industries, particularly healthcare, where the company showed off a glucose monitor that could wirelessly transmit their vital statistics to their physicians for better care.

That’s not to say that AT&T is leaving telecommunications behind, far from it in fact, but that the company recognizes that there is no future in telecom without IoT, without becoming more than simply a dumb pipe that other companies get rich off of.

“[The changes are] more a reflection of where we see velocity is occurring,” Chris Penrose, head of AT&T’s Internet of Things business, said in an interview ahead of the presentation. “More and more things will continue to be connected.

All that to say, consider AT&T to be an example of the future of telecom, one where phones and tablets are more of an afterthought in a world where everything, from refrigerators to cars to cities, are connected, held together by the usually substandard glue of your local telecommunications giant.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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