CTIA SUPER MOBILITY 2015, LAS VEGAS: AT&T Head of Mobility Glenn Lurie talked up the company’s evolution from traditional mobile services during his keynote on day two, unveiling updates to its Digital Life and connected car programs but staying surprisingly quiet on the operator’s plans for 5G.
Lurie, who has been in the role for just over a year, noted that “IoT is still in its infancy, and no-one knows yet what it can be”. He stressed the need to “simplify the [user] experience” for connected devices.
He said the company now boasts 23 million different devices connected to its network, with more than 200 contracts for partnerships in a space “that is beginning to explode”, he proclaimed.
“When things are wireless, it needs to be made simple,” he urged. “This is what IoT is all about and we a need a simple and single customer experience when it comes down to connected devices.”
However, on the same week that its most fierce rival Verizon announced planned field trials for 5G next year, and FCC chairman Tom Wheeler affirmed the US commitment to lead in developing the technology, Lurie notably steered clear of the subject, despite focusing much of his talk around IoT, of which 5G is said to be a key component for.
Instead, Lurie used his time on stage to discuss a number of partnerships the company had struck in Digital Life, IoT and connected cars.
One of the most eye catching developments at the show was AT&T’s introduction of a new personal security application for its Digital Life platform.
The Digital Life Personal Security App, which is supported by Nest, allows users to “take the digital life and personal security experience with them on the go”, and can live stream video and audio from people if they encounter problems while travelling, giving them access to a monitoring centre.
The emergency service team can then manage the situation and provide further information based on the individual’s personal profile, and there are also a number of other features, including a messaging application and an alert trigger tracking a journey.
“This is intended to ensure people feel safe and have something or someone watching over them anywhere they go,” said Lurie. “By adding it to your smartphone, we are able to enhance security away from the home.”
In the smart home space, Lurie said there was now an opportunity to connect almost 700 million homes globally, representing a $42 billion revenue opportunity.
Another announcement making a splash was AT&T’s partnership with car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover. The multiyear agreement will see AT&T provide wireless connectivity to a fleet of its vehicles, as well as a suite of infotainment services and navigational connectivity.
Lurie said AT&T now partners with a number of the top car manufacturers and will have half of all connected cars on its network by the end of this year, giving it “a nice lead in the space”, he said.
“We view the connected car as the next great device of your life. Every aspect of the ecosystem benefits from being fully connected, all the time,” he said.
He also confirmed the company was working on addressing security concerns that surrounds connected cars, and confessed that AT&T’s own projection to have 10 million cars connected by 2017 is “low”.
Along with its partnership with Jaguar, Lurie announced the company was teaming up with fleet management company Telogis to upgrade vehicles through device diagnostics and software upgrades to connected car components.
Bikes, wheelchairs and the rest
Sticking to his theme of making things “simple”, Lurie talked through a number of other small scale partnerships the company struck to develop connected products.
These include an anti-theft and panic alert component for bicycles in collaboration with KiaM2M and sensors for luggage through a partnership with Tumi.
Another development was the unveiling of a wirelessly connected wheelchair concept in partnership with Permobil. Sensors in the chair allow healthcare professionals to monitor the chair and provide information on seat cushion pressure and monitor battery levels.
“This is all very simple stuff,” he said. “We want to tell these objects to do something once, then they keep doing it. The goal for us is to grow and grow through simpler solutions.”