The possibilities enabled by innovations such as 5G and edge computing drive us as we work to address global societal and business challenges and impact the world for the better.
New technologies – including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, video analytics, virtual reality (VR), edge computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) – are changing how we live, work and engage with the world. Broad deployment of 5G wireless technology will dramatically increase the adoption of these solutions as carriers work to deliver a faster and more responsive network experience to an immense number of users and connected devices.
To lay the foundation for these connected devices, we’re building out our networks to enhance reliability, coverage, speed and overall performance for consumers and businesses. Over the past 5 years (2016–2020), AT&T invested more than $110 billion in our wireless and wireline networks, including capital investments and acquisition of wireless spectrum and operations. Learn more in our Network Quality & Reliability issue brief.
It’s our mission to bring customers the technology of tomorrow, today. IoT solutions, for example, intersect countless areas of our lives – connecting sensors in our cars, home utility meters and household appliances, and in business applications such as factories, office buildings, shipping and logistics. High-performance wireless technologies like 5G and mobile edge computing will further enhance the potential benefits enabled by IoT. AI and data science can also help solve societal challenges through improvements in mobility and efficiency.
Our Chief Technology Officer oversees internal organizations responsible for disruptive and incremental innovation. This culture of innovation is grounded in the AT&T Code of Business Conduct, which also explains our responsibility to safeguard intellectual property.
Through organizations such as AT&T Labs, the AT&T 5G Innovation Studio and the AT&T Intellectual Property Group, we aim to tackle some of the most difficult challenges – and opportunities – related to evolving technologies.
Our suppliers also add value to our company with innovation and fresh ideas, frequently sponsoring research and working with AT&T Labs alongside AT&T employees. Many of our supplier agreements promote innovation through models of shared value, such as joint intellectual property agreements or shared revenue.
Some of the world’s best scientists and engineers work at AT&T Labs and focus their unique research capabilities and expertise on our network and anything that uses our network. The AT&T Labs research programs are at the forefront in creating advanced technologies that will drive future innovations in AI and automation, software-defined everything, network and customer experience, video and media analytics, and open-source platforms.
One area of focus at AT&T Labs is open source – software that allows us to manage more cost-effectively, better control and more quickly deploy network services. To that end, the organization is centered around a concept called “Network AI,” which is the AT&T framework for open-source efforts that will drive the company’s software-defined network. AT&T is a founding member of several open-source initiatives, including ONAP, DANOS, the Open Compute Project, Airship and the O-RAN Alliance.
Understanding that a company of our size can’t innovate in a vacuum and remain competitive and agile in today’s market, AT&T continues to scout the most revolutionary innovations throughout the global ecosystem. In 2020, AT&T transformed its operating model to focus on execution, with a culture of accountability and decision-making closer to the customer. More than ever, innovation is everyone’s mission across AT&T. As we focus on wireless, fiber, and software-delivered video, every employee at AT&T needs to approach their work with a renewed drive to build the future. AT&T recently opened the 5G Innovation Studio in Plano, Texas, with the goal of co-creating 5G-centric use cases and expediting the speed of adoption.
Research & Development
AT&T scientists and engineers conduct research in a variety of areas, including internet protocol networking, advanced network design and architecture, cybersecurity, network operations support systems, satellite technology, video platform development and data analytics. Most development activities are performed to create new services and invent tools and systems to manage secure and reliable networks for our customers and AT&T.
Our total research and development investments were $1.2 billion in 2020.
AT&T’s patent portfolio is regularly regarded as one of the strongest in the world, and through our WarnerMedia division, we own a library of audiovisual content widely considered among the most valuable in the entertainment industry.
We create, own and distribute intellectual property, including material protected by copyrights, registered or unregistered trademarks, trade names, patents, trade secrets or other proprietary rights. To protect this intellectual property, we rely on a combination of laws, license agreements, robust registration and enforcement, and the responsible actions of our employees.
AT&T also offers licensing support to customers, including a patent licensing program and brand licensing of a wide array of trademarks. For more information about AT&T’s intellectual property portfolio and approach, see the AT&T Intellectual Property website, the AT&T Code of Business Conduct and the WarnerMedia Standards of Business Conduct.
Innovating for Today & Tomorrow
Technology has the power and reach to be an important part of our efforts to address global challenges and other societal challenges. These solutions can also help AT&T succeed in the competitive marketplace, attract employee talent and enhance our brand’s reputation. Here are some examples of the possibilities of AT&T technology in action:
Ultra high-speed, lower-latency 5G networks using millimeter wave spectrum (5G+) can enhance a doctor’s ability to deliver innovative treatments by supporting complex augmented reality or VR research. 5G+ can also help make telemedicine more effective by allowing clinicians to conduct virtual patient visits while downloading an entire MRI scan in seconds. AT&T is helping VITAS® Healthcare, a hospice provider, explore the benefits of 5G-enabled mobile VR content to help ease pain and anxiety among patients.
Due to the ongoing opioid epidemic in the U.S. and the risk of opiate addiction, regulatory bodies require hospitals to provide non-pharma pain treatment options for their patients. Several cutting-edge solutions are using AT&T IoT connectivity to help address the concerns of this growing crisis and bring potential relief to many who suffer from pain. AccendoWave, for example, is an opioid alternative that monitors a patient’s brain waves. The device can detect pain indicators and tries to distract the patient from the discomfort using content delivered over a tablet.
Connected Health Technologies, powered by IoT, may become essential to mass-delivered personalized care and helping older adults live fulfilling and independent lives. Remote monitoring devices, connected health wearables, Mobile Personal Emergency Response Systems and personal healthcare companions are examples of technologies that can help the elderly. AT&T is working with many health device manufacturers and technology providers to connect and deploy hundreds of thousands of connected diagnostic systems each year. These IoT solutions aid clinicians in delivering the healthcare this population needs.
Therapeutic Extended Reality (XR) is a cognitive behavior therapy that creates an immersive experience to transport patients beyond their four walls with 360-degree video content. Using virtual reality or augmented reality combined with AT&T 5G, XR offers patients in hospice or senior care facilities non-pharmacological intervention for pain management and improved mental health. This diversion or reminiscent therapy improves the lives of seniors who are currently facing increased isolation due to COVID-19 safety protocols. It can help improve self-esteem and provide a sense of fulfillment and comfort as they are virtually immersed into both new and familiar environments or situations. With the addition of more interactive content, new physical therapy activities will take advantage of this continuously expanding technology.
THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
A number of innovative AT&T solutions have provided support to meet the unprecedented public health challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Remote Patient Monitoring: People with preexisting conditions and the elderly may need their vitals tracked between vaccine doses. AT&T brings health care to the home by tracking temperature, blood pressure, and other key vitals.
- Temperature Screening Kiosk: The temperature screening solution powered by AT&T is an end-to-end, ready-to-use solution that controls access to facilities based on user-defined requirements around temperature screening and responses to the COVID-19 symptoms questionnaire.
- Vaccine Temperature and Location Monitoring: AT&T’s IoT solutions are helping ensure the correct temperature for the vaccine is consistent throughout the vaccine’s journey from production to the patient and every step in between.
- Patient Identity Kiosk: As people come to various vaccine administration sites, AT&T’s Check-In kiosk automates check-in procedures and streamlines identity authentication.
- Contact Center Essentials: This vaccine communication platform provides an integrated, omnichannel experience for vaccine patients that is scalable, agile and cost-effective. Services include notifications via voice, SMS and email; Interactive Voice Response (IVR) services to manage call volumes; and reporting, analytics and surveys to measure patient engagement and adherence.
5G will help our business partners and clients in manufacturing run more efficient operations, create reductions in waste and enable digital twin environments where all manufacturing floor activity is replicated in a digital model. 5G’s high capacity, lower latency and higher network speeds support manufacturing’s need for more detailed process monitoring, edge computing, VR training, video analytics and automation. For example, a digital twin of the environment allows for simulated adjustments and testing for efficiency and safety improvements before rolling out changes to the manufacturing floor.
As a founding member of Third Derivative (3D), established by the Rocky Mountain Institute and New Energy Nexus in early 2020, AT&T is helping scale promising solutions to spur society toward a rapid reduction in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This collaboration brings startups, investors, corporations, and market, regulatory and policy insights together to increase the success and speed to market for climate innovation. 3D’s inaugural class of nearly 50 promising startups spans hardware, software, business model and finance innovations, among other solutions. In addition to financial support, AT&T is providing technical resources to integrate these solutions with IoT connectivity.
In an effort to support the American Hotel & Lodging Association and major hotel brands in their pledge to prioritize safety, the AT&T Staff Alert Service is enabling hotel and hospitality employees to summon assistance in certain threatening situations via a compact, lightweight connected device that activates an alert when an employee presses the button, transmitting the employee’s location to hotel security. Our network is now also being used to locate equipment within a facility, monitor systems for leaks, and identify issues before they can cause extensive problems. All of these efforts are aimed at creating a better experience for both staff and guests.
Some of the world’s greatest innovations come to life on college campuses. We bring our expertise to university campuses in the form of courses, labs and research opportunities on 5G and other technologies. We are working with institutions such as the University of Miami, Purdue University and the University of Missouri to help support innovative teaching and research. For more information, visit att.com/5g_universities.
Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) can improve daily traffic performance through near-real-time adjustments to traffic-signal timing. ITS can also help develop cities and communities’ insights into traffic patterns and bottlenecks, support other intersection-connected IoT equipment such as air quality monitoring, and build on a highly reliable broadband infrastructure capable of supporting fast-advancing technologies.
The Intelligent Transportation Society of New York awarded AT&T and our customer, the New York Department of Transportation, an “Outstanding Project of the Year” award for our work on Smart Traffic Management.
To learn more about IoT and innovation in government, visit about.att.com/pages/internet_of_things.
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