AT&T opens Texas innovation lab for industry ‘verticals’ to test 5G, AI, SDN and IoT
AT&T is inviting companies in the manufacturing, retail, health, finance, and public sector industries into its Foundry innovation lab in Plano, Texas, for the first time to collaborate on new digital solutions.
A new area within the facility has been given over to “all aspects of an industry environment”, going from manufacturing to distribution to retail. AT&T said the initiative will help enterprises drive their own digital transformation and bring new technologies to market more quickly.
It is offering to collaborate with ‘vertical’ industry customers on technologies including 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), software-defined networking (SDN), and internet of things (IoT). Cyber-security services are also available, it said.
AT&T said it will activate 5G in its Foundry network of innovation centres across four cities in the US before the end of the year, in line with its plan to turn on 12 ‘5G cities’.
It said would experiment with manufacturing companies around 5G network slicing to separate high and low speed service requirements during peak capacity.
It also cited use cases for augmented reality to transform the customer experience in retail, IoT to enhance healthcare, drones for damage assessment in insurance, and machine learning to enhance situational awareness for first responders.
The new Industry 4.0 space at its Texas Foundry comes on the heels of AT&T’s decision to align its sales and marketing efforts to the same key vertical industries: manufacturing, retail, finance, healthcare and the public sector.
Abhi Ingle, senior vice president of digital, distribution and channel marketing at AT&T, said: “The AT&T Foundry has mastered the art of listening to and advising our customers on solutions for their technology challenges, then turning those conversations into action.
“By bringing businesses into this collaborative environment of engineers, technologists and cybersecurity experts, we are helping them get in front of industry-specific trends in the digital age before they become mainstream and, in turn, equipping our customers with disruptive industry solutions.”
Vishy Gopalakrishnan, vice president of ecosystem and innovation at AT&T, said: “We’re uniquely situated to demonstrate AT&T’s extensive suite of network and security capabilities and to harness our deep technical expertise to create integrated solutions using existing and future technologies.
“Through the launch of this vertical-focused space, we can more quickly and effectively work in-step with our customers to address their industry-related challenges.”
AT&T has Foundry centres in Atlanta, Houston, and Palo Alto in the US, alongside its Plano site. It also has facilities in Mexico City, in Mexico, Ra’anana, in Israel.
The company is introducing 5G in Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Louisville, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, San Antonio, and Waco before the end of the year. It has said parts of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose will come online in early 2019.
In Waco, with Ericsson and Qualcomm, it has just completed a ‘world’s first’ (an everyday occurrence, it seems, in the brave new world of 5G testing) for wireless 5G data transfer over millimeter wave using standards-based, production equipment with a smartphone-sized device.
“Not a lab. Not preproduction hardware. Not emulators. And fully compliant with global standards,” it said in a blog post.
Andre Fuetsch, chief technology officer at AT&T, said: “We’re at the dawn of something new that will define the next decade and generation of connectivity. Future smart factories and retailers, self-driving cars, untethered virtual and augmented realities, and other yet to be discovered experiences will grow up on tomorrow’s 5G networks.
“Much like 4G introduced the world to the gig economy, mobile 5G will jumpstart the next wave of unforeseen innovation.”
AT&T is using millimeter wave spectrum to deploy 5G in pockets of dense areas, where demand on its network is high and extra capacity and coverage is needed most. In suburban and rural areas, it will deploy 5G on its mid and low-band spectrum holdings.
“We’ve been encouraged by the performance of mmWave in our 5G trials and found that it performs better than expected and is successful in delivering ultra-high wireless speeds under a variety of conditions,” it said.
David Nash, vice president of business development at Qualcomm, commented: “This call between a 5G base station in the field and a smartphone form factor 5G device brings us one step closer to commercial 5G networks and mobile devices.”
AT&T is working with Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung for its 5G network building, already deploying 3GPP Release 15 compliant equipment in a handful of our early 5G cities. “5G is coming, faster than many realise,” said Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice president and head of business area networks at Ericsson.
“We’ve brought 3GPP mobility standards-based 5G technology closer to commercial reality today. Our joint efforts will enable AT&T’s mobile 5G network to ultimately deliver on the future promises of high-speed connectivity and very low latency to its customers.”
AT&T has invested nearly $145 billion during the past five years, in spectrum and operations, more than “any other public company” has invested in the US in the period, it said.