AT&T Announces Plans to Connect Everything We Own to Everywhere We Go

By Lynn Bunim, WIPP Membership & Special Programs Director

ATTAt its Developer Conference running in Las Vegas parallel to the Consumer Electronics Showcase, AT&T spent time talking up the potential of reaching its 132 million wireless customers and 45 million video customers. The change in the tenor, from showing off its newest phones or touting the latest upgrade that speeds up its wireless network, speaks to how AT&T plans to be a part of its customers new, more connected life. The carrier recognizes it is no longer enough to power your smartphone or home DSL connection. It wants to be the link that connects your car, the health devices that monitor your body and even the infrastructure in your city.

“This is a new AT&T,” Ralph de la Vega, CEO of the company’s mobility and enterprise business, said in his keynote address. The push is part of the Internet of Things trend. The idea is that every device — whether it’s a refrigerator or glucose monitor — talks to each other to better serve you, with AT&T angling to become the bridge between things. Those connections are going in everywhere, including coolers built by Red Bull that enable the company to track their location, state and temperature.

AT&T offered new information about its smart cities initiative, through which it promises to bring everything from traffic monitoring to electric grid management to gunfire detection into one comprehensive ecosystem. The program’s initial cities will be Atlanta, Dallas, and Chicago, and it involves a huge range of partnerships, with giants including Cisco, Ericsson, GE, IBM, and Qualcomm. “We are going to go up the stack,” says AT&T Mobility CEO Glenn Lurie. “We are going to bring things that are complete solutions.”

WIPP’s membership and WIPP’s Coalition Partners comprise thousands of entrepreneurs and women owned small businesses, all of whom are on the move all the time.  Improved connectivity could bring improved productivity for this important segment of the business community.

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Spectrum is vital for wireless – and more is needed! [GUEST POST]

by Robert Shrum, myWireless.org

Earlier this week, The Brattle Group released a study highlighting the essential value of licensed spectrum to America’s economy, job creation, technological innovation, and most specifically, the wireless sector and consumers.

For a quick refresher, “spectrum” refers to the radio frequencies that allow hundreds of millions of people to use wireless service across the country. Only a finite amount of those frequencies are usable for mobile broadband service today, creating heavy demand for access to this critical resource. The spectrum used by your wireless provider is licensed (meaning dedicated for specific network use.) This licensed spectrum is the crucial highway that all wireless network information travels on – without it, your service wouldn’t exist. Chances are the phone you are using is dependent upon spectrum sold at auction in 2006 and 2008.

Not surprising, the licensed spectrum currently being used by providers is incredibly valuable. In the report, The Brattle Group reveals, “We estimate that the economic value of the 645.5 MHz of licensed spectrum is almost $500 billion.” Even more shocking is the finding that the current value of social welfare from the benefits of wireless services generated by licensed spectrum is 10 to 20 times that of its direct market value (between $5 trillion and $10 trillion).

Additionally, this licensed spectrum has a huge positive impact on the national economy, resulting in over $400 billion in economic activity per year throughout the country due to wireless companies and industry employees. This figure does not even include the economic benefits from innovations in mobile education, mobile health, and other similar business and services now reliant on licensed spectrum. That additional impact is especially evident in states where the booming app economy is a key driver of economic activity and job creation.

As more of these wireless-reliant industries emerge and wireless devices such as smartphones and smart devices continue to advance in functionality, larger amounts of licensed spectrum will be required to operate networks and transport information.What is being done to meet this rising demand? In the paper, the Brattle Group notes that a net of 98.5 megahertz of licensed spectrum has been reallocated for commercial use since the 2010 release of the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan, which called for an additional 300 MHz of spectrum to be made available for licensed use by this year and a total of 500 MHz by 2020.

To help meet these targets, the FCC has scheduled an incentive auction for next year where television broadcasters will be able to voluntarily sell their spectrum to the FCC, which will then repackage and auction it off to wireless providers. A similar auction resulted in more than $40 billion in proceeds last winter.These auctions are significant steps forward, but unfortunately won’t meet the full demands of American consumers. It is urgent that Congress, the FCC and NTIA work in collaboration with the private sector to identify a future pipeline of additional spectrum for licensed use before it’s too late and the looming wireless traffic jam brings your smartphone to a screeching halt. We have no plan for after 2020 as a nation to address our mobile needs. It is time to start that dialogue.