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An M2M Pioneer, AT&T Mobilizes Data for the Smarter Utility

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June 16, 2011

An M2M Pioneer, AT&T Mobilizes Data for the Smarter Utility

By Tammy Wolf, TMCnet Web Editor

Today, machine-to-machine (M2M) is certainly redefining the world of work as many leading companies are using mobile resource solutions that freely exchange information among assets for the purpose of enhancing decision-making abilities and boosting profitability and efficiency. A leader in smarter utility services, AT&T (News - Alert) offers an array of wireless technology solutions that provide access to vital information in real-time and mobilize field service business processes.

AT&T’s M2M solutions have the ability to enable two-way communication between millions of devices – be it vehicles, heart monitors or vending machines. The connection of an M2M device transmits data wirelessly at its source and shares reliable real-time data through radio signals. This, in turn, helps automate manual processes, improves the performance of business provisioning, and results in savings in cost, time and labor.

A diverse set of industries have been reaping the benefits and experiencing the powerful possibilities of AT&T’s M2M solutions. While energy companies have been able to replace on-site meter readings with electronic transmissions from meters to a billing system, healthcare facilities have been able to remotely monitor patient conditions following medical procedures. Meanwhile, utilities have repaired and isolated disruptions during power outages by monitoring electric grids for capacity and outage conditions.

Well aware of the challenges faced by utility companies today, AT&T has developed field service solutions that guarantee the safe and efficient delivery of utilities by electric services, natural gas supply, water supply and distribution companies. Using wireless ruggedized laptops and handheld devices, technicians engage in field service automation to obtain work orders and customer site data in the field. While providing unmatched advantages to VP field service and distribution automation, field technicians achieve fewer travel hours, the ability to make more informed decisions in the field, and increase the number of work orders completed. 

In collaborating with leading applications providers, AT&T provides location-based services to drive value and extend deployments for today’s mobile workforce. In fact, the smarter utility company recently revealed plans to invest in M2M opportunities in the smartphone ecosystem. With a growing repertoire of 12 million “emerging devices” connected to its mobile network and has more than 1,000 certified specialty consumer and M2M devices, AT&T hopes to drive productivity and enhance applications for AT&T’s business customers. 

"For emerging devices, AT&T remains the network of choice by committing to collaborate with consumer electronics manufacturers in the emerging devices ecosystem in order to drive innovation and growth," said Glenn Lurie, president of emerging devices, resale and partnerships for AT&T, in a statement. "We've developed the infrastructure to help electronic manufacturers quickly bring their products to market, creating new business models, offering new pricing structures for customers who purchase emerging devices, and continually expanding our mobile network capabilities to support the long-term growth of these devices."

“We see opportunities to invest in an ecosystem that revolves around these devices,” said Roman Pacewicz, AT&T’s senior vice president of marketing and global strategy in a recent interview with Connected Planet (News - Alert). In addition to the average smartphone and tablet, these M2M devices may one day include the power meter and garbage can sensors.

According to Pacewicz, AT&T hopes to take M2M a step further by marrying a sensor and an application in a cloud environment so content can be pushed to and collected from the device anytime and anywhere.

In addition, AT&T plans additional investments in the healthcare industry in terms of information management, medical imaging and devices that can monitor patients’ hearts, glucose levels and weight. For example, AT&T recently announced it would provide wireless connectivity for the BlueLibris personal monitoring device, which provides real-time correspondence with the person wearing the device through call-center functionality.

This year, AT&T will also be delivering E3 Greentech’s next-generation services to homeowners, property managers and utilities for the purpose of optimizing and reducing energy use in the home. Through smarter utility wireless access to a central unit located in the home, owners will be able to effectively manage and monitor energy consumption.

Through a broadening of its M2M services portfolio with revolutionary application development, integration and management solutions, in addition to extending its global roaming footprint for the AT&T Control Center, AT&T will be offering companies the ability to enable consistent operations regardless of location or situation.

“As part of our focus on enterprise mobility, we’re helping to accelerate and transform M2M adoption for businesses by making every step of the process easier and faster so that our customers can seize the benefits of M2M connectivity – enhanced productivity, lower costs, and streamlined operations – and integrate them simply into existing IT systems,” said Chris Hill, vice president of Advanced Enterprise Mobility Solutions for AT&T Business Solutions. “Our Advanced Enterprise Mobility Solutions group collaborates with our Emerging Devices team to enable a wireless connection for virtually any edge device."

Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet web editor. She covers a wide range of topics, including IP communications and information technology. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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