Inside the AT&T Foundry: Exploring Unconventional Methods to Make IoT a Reality

July 12, 2017
By Wes Neibaur

The AT&T Foundry is a place of exploration. And it’s special because despite being part of a large company, the teams can act quickly to solve problems. In timing that rivals some startups, they create Internet of Things (IoT) products. And they have the opportunity to experiment with unconventional solutions for these problems.

Meet Tom Schleef, an RF (Radio-frequency) engineer at the IoT AT&T Foundry in Plano, Texas.

What are you working on now?

As an RF engineer, my job encompasses nearly everything that transmits or receives radio waves. Think, Wi-Fi, cell phones or radios. Currently, we’re looking into uses of low cost radio technology, hardware and sensors for IoT applications. I’m exploring how this relates to the evolution of the AT&T network with LTE-M and beyond.

This includes Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) hardware for IoT.   Also, I’ve been working with several enterprise customers on IoT device/antennas implementation challenges to help them get their product to market sooner.  I provide design guidance early on and facilitate rapid test capability that exists here at the IoT Foundry. 

AT&T has specific RF performance requirements for devices to operate on our network, and it is very important that these are considered early on during product conceptualization and realization.

What brought you to the AT&T Foundry?

An AT&T employee, whom I worked with previously at a local IoT company, thought I’d be a good fit. Us IoT gurus have to stick together.

What do you love most about coming to work?

Having the resources and tools on hand to make my ideas a reality. I also enjoy working with my team. Our diverse talents help make anything possible.    

Where do you see the technology you focus on going in the next few years?

I expect that as the cost of IoT devices and hardware goes down, the market will boom. But we’ll see more obstacles in application. Things like device size and battery requirements may create challenges. Being able to think creatively will be key.

What do you do outside of work for fun?

I like to play ice hockey, tinker with cars and woodworking.

Tom joined the AT&T Foundry team in February 2013.

Wes Neibaur - Mechanical Engineer, IoT AT&T Foundry 

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