AT&T to invest in new M2M research facilities

AT&T is to launch two new facilities dedicated largely to M2M research and development as it ramps up its commercial M2M activities.

The US operator has served notice of plans to open new ‘Foundry’ facilities in Atlanta and the Dallas-Forth Worth areas to speed up the development of M2M technologies and applications.

AT&T is to launch two new facilities dedicated largely to M2M research and development as it ramps up its commercial M2M activities.

The US operator has served notice of plans to open new ‘Foundry’ facilities in Atlanta and the Dallas-Forth Worth areas to speed up the development of M2M technologies and applications.

“Since its founding three years ago, the mission of the AT&T (Dallas, TX, USA) Foundry has been to identify great ideas, put the right people and technology ecosystem around them and move them quickly to market,” said John Donovan, senior executive vice president of AT&T Technology and Network Operations. “As a result, our customers are benefitting from great products and services that set the pace for innovation and our company is realizing more enhanced efficiencies internally.

“We’re planning to move fast at these new locations, which will be focused on accelerating many of the new technologies that will drive AT&T’s growth in the near future,” said Donovan.

The Foundry in Atlanta will focus largely on Digital Life, the home security and automation service that AT&T launched in April, but staff there will also work on creating new applications and services for the connected car, mobility, emerging devices and AT&T u-verse, the operator’s fiber-based IPTV service.

Network equipment maker Cisco (Cisco, CA, USA) has been named as a “host sponsor” of the facility, and is to collaborate with AT&T on various projects as well as help to identify third-party developers, start-ups, investors, inventors and other entrepreneurs that have the potential to become AT&T partners.

Georgia Tech – next to which the facility is located – will also be involved in work at the Foundry.

“The AT&T Foundry in Atlanta will be at the center of our efforts to make your life easier, simpler, more connected and more secure,” said Ralph de la Vega, the president and chief executive of AT&T Mobility. “Whether you want to check your thermostat from the road, make the drive home a little more enjoyable, or have devices conveniently handle routine things from your day, the AT&T Foundry delivers these types of innovations and more.”

Meanwhile, the new Dallas-Forth Worth Foundry will dedicate efforts towards bringing “world-class expertise, platforms, infrastructure and tools to the field of M2M and connected device [CD] technology”.

“The M2M/CD center will focus on rapidly designing and building prototype hardware and software … using a variety of cutting-edge hardware tools and highly secure and scalable software platforms,” said Abhi Ingle, vice president of ecosystem and innovation for AT&T.

AT&T launched its Foundry program in 2010 and says it is unique in that in focuses on taking ideas to market as rapidly as possible.

According to Mike Troiano, the vice president of advanced mobility solutions for AT&T Business Solutions, one AT&T client had spent a year trying to build an M2M device that had still not been certified for network use.

AT&T invited the company into its existing Foundry in Plano, Texas, where a third party was identified that could build the device for $13 million less than the client’s original budget.

The program has also led to the broad deployment of self-optimizing network (SON) technology, as a result of AT&T’s collaboration with Israeli tech specialist Intucell, and seen the commercialization of remote patient monitoring services and SafeCell, an app that allows fleet managers to monitor and restrict drivers’ use of mobile devices while behind the wheel.

Besides Cisco, Foundry sponsors include Alcatel-Lucent (Paris, France), Amdocs (Chesterfield, MO, USA), Ericsson (Stockholm, Sweden), Intel (Santa Clara, CA, USA) and Microsoft (Seattle, WA, USA).

With its sponsors, AT&T claims to have invested more than $100 million in the AT&T Foundry program so far.