LIVE FROM CES 2016: AT&T trumpeted its achievements in connected cars, including a new 4G deal with Ford, as it turns its mind towards the massive opportunity, as well as the enormous complexity, involved with smart cities.

Connected cars
The US operator announced it will bring 4G connectivity to all new Ford vehicles in the US and Canada under an exclusive multiyear agreement. The aim is to reach 10 million vehicles by 2020 through the deal.

The announcement was made by AT&T President and CEO Ralph de la Vega on stage at the operator’s Developer Summit here in Las Vegas with Ford CTO Raj Nair.

Looking wider, de la Vega said AT&T works with 9 out of 16 leading car manufacturers on connected car initiatives.

In addition, de la Vega was bullish about a burgeoning relationship with energy drinks firm Red Bull.  Date enabled coolers save time for the firm’s dealers. Currently the firm has 200,000 connected coolers covered by the AT&T deal.

AT&T is also working with Red Bull’s Formula One race team. The team runs an international VPN over AT&T’s infrastructure so its UK HQ can receive live data from race tracks around the world.

“These guys use real-time to shave milliseconds off race time,” said de la Vega. AT&T also works with Red Bull’s racing team on MDM and security. “Security is critical in Formula One,” confirmed Al Peasland, head of technical partnerships with Infiniti Red Bull Racing.

“Data changes the game, it’s a new industrial revolution,” said de la Vega, looking wider at what IoT offers.

Smart cities
Next up was Glenn Lurie, AT&T Mobility’s president and CEO, who talked about the operator’s strategy for smart cities. He indicated AT&T wanted to take a similar approach as it has with connected cars. “You should view this as a similar plan.” Its four pillar strategy involves partnerships including Cisco, IBM, Deloitte, Ericsson, Intel and Qualcomm.

Lurie was joined on stage by Hans Vestberg, Ericsson CEO; Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO; FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and Kasim Reed, the major of Atlanta. “The conversation around cars will reach cities,” confirmed Reed.

Currently, AT&T is using Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas as testbeds.