We’re continuously building our wireless and wired networks to enhance reliability, coverage, speed and overall performance to help address global business challenges and engage citizens for the greater good.
New technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) 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 adoption of these solutions as carriers work to deliver a faster, 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 wireless and wired network to enhance reliability, coverage, speed and overall performance for consumers and businesses. Over the past 5 years (2015–2019), AT&T invested more than $135 billion in our wireless and wireline networks, including capital investments and acquisition of wireless spectrum and operations – more than any other public company in the U.S. Learn more in our Network Quality & Reliability issue brief.
It is our mission to bring customers the technology of tomorrow, today. IoT intersects countless areas of our lives, connecting sensors in our cars as well as utility meters, household appliances and more. Wireless technologies like 5G will help enable that experience. AI and data science also may help solve societal challenges, such as through improvements in mobility and efficiency, which give us an opportunity to grow our business while contributing positively to society – and helping others do the same.
AT&T helps companies of all sizes develop solutions that can lower costs, gain efficiencies and attract new customers. As technologies like 5G go mainstream, we are poised to help businesses gain a competitive advantage, while finding ways to use 5G to bring significant economic, social and environmental benefits, such as:
- Improving people’s quality of life,
- Helping communities become cleaner, safer and stronger,
- Improving people’s health, safety and mobility,
- Utilizing resources more effectively and improving productivity,
- Improving energy and water efficiency and
- Reducing waste and carbon emissions.
Our goal is to use the AT&T legacy and culture of innovation to tackle some of the most difficult challenges related to evolving technologies such as 5G, edge computing, AI and quantum networking. Departments and programs such as the AT&T Labs, AT&T Foundry, AT&T Intellectual Property Group and The Innovation Pipeline (TIP) will help us succeed.
Our Chief Technology Officer, who is also president of AT&T Labs, oversees 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.
Our suppliers also add value to our company with innovation and fresh ideas, frequently sponsoring research and working in our Labs and Foundry 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. We work to go beyond today's current solutions to invent disruptive technologies that will drive future innovations. The AT&T Labs research programs are at the forefront in creating advanced technologies in AI and automation, software-defined everything, network and customer experience, video and media analytics and open-source platforms.
AT&T Labs is focused on driving leadership in open source. 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, Acumos, Akraino, DANOS, Airship and the O-RAN Alliance.
At the AT&T Foundry, we work with customers, developers, startups, suppliers and AT&T business units to co-create new solutions and bring them to market faster than ever before. By bringing customers into the Foundry, AT&T can connect them with experts in engineering, technology and cybersecurity to collaborate on solutions tailored to industry-specific needs. These active innovation centers give customers access to live 5G, edge computing and other technologies to help them rapidly build and test prototypes to solve real-world business challenges. Since its launch, the Foundry has championed collaboration on hundreds of proofs-of-concept and prototypes, and many of these projects have evolved into commercial products and services.
The AT&T Foundry represents a collective investment, along with technology providers Nokia, Amdocs, Cisco, Ericsson, Intel and Tech Mahindra. The AT&T Foundry has innovation centers in 6 cities around the world: Atlanta; Houston; Palo Alto, Calif.; Plano, Texas; Mexico City; and Ra'anana, Israel.
The Innovation Pipeline (TIP)
We built TIP, a dynamic online crowdsourcing platform, to tap the collective imagination of our employees with members from all 50 states and 54 countries. AT&T employees have 24/7 access to submit, vote and collaborate on ideas using the TIP platform. Ideas are refined through real-time feedback from peers. The top ideas are pitched to internal “Angel Investors” – AT&T executives who act as venture capitalists – to determine funding. Ideas are developed into working prototypes by the AT&T Foundry and then placed within an AT&T business unit or launched into the hands of our customers. Since the TIP program started in 2009, more than 55,000 ideas have been submitted by employees and 125+ projects have been launched.
AT&T Intellectual Property
AT&T Intellectual Property is one of the world's largest intellectual property operations, with a heritage of innovation that dates back more than a century to Alexander Graham Bell. Our patent portfolio is one of the strongest in the telecommunications industry. Our philosophy is to optimally protect AT&T’s intellectual property and license or sell AT&T’s intellectual property to others for fostering continued innovation in society. We also strongly believe in respecting the intellectual property of others. We develop valuable, innovative technologies to create new features and services for customers. AT&T protects its intellectual property with patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets to ensure the company’s intellectual property protection of all aspects of its current and future business operations.
AT&T scientists and engineers conduct research in a variety of areas, including intellectual property networking, advanced network design and architecture, network and cyber security, network operations support systems, satellite technology, video platform development and data analytics. The majority of the development activities are performed to create new services and to invent tools and systems to manage secure and reliable networks for us and our customers. Research and development investments were $1.276 billion in 2019.
Innovating for Today & Tomorrow
Technology has the power and reach to address global challenges and engage citizens for the greater good. These solutions can also help AT&T succeed in the competitive marketplace, attract employee talent and enhance the reputation of our brand.
Through our IoT for Good initiative, we highlight multiple industry focus areas and solutions that can transform the ways we – and our customers – care for society and the planet. We work to collaboratively develop solutions that demonstrate positive impacts in the areas of health, accessibility, employee safety and more. Examples include:
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. And 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 in need.
Due to the ongoing opioid epidemic in the U.S. and the risk of opiate addiction, hospitals are required by their regulatory bodies to provide non-pharma pain treatment options for their patients. Several cutting-edge solutions, such as the AccendoWave, use AT&T IoT connectivity to help address the concerns of this growing crisis and bring potential relief to many who suffer with pain.
Connected Health Technologies, powered by IoT, may become essential to mass-delivered personalized care and help 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 these IoT solutions and deliver the care that this population crucially needs.
Hanger, Inc., a leading provider of orthotic and prosthetic patient services and solutions, worked with the AT&T Foundry to develop a proof of concept for the industry’s first standalone network-connected device for prosthetic limbs. The prototype, designed to attach to below-the-knee prostheses, is simple and highly mobile as it syncs directly to the cloud via the AT&T network without relying on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or a separate mobile device. This connectivity allows clinicians to monitor patients’ prosthetic usage beyond the clinical setting. Equipped with these insights, clinicians can proactively contact patients to address potential issues impacting prosthetic usage, such as fit and comfort, to enhance mobility.
In an effort to prioritize employee safety and comply with local jurisdiction requirements, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, along with major hotel brands, have pledged to provide hotel employees across the U.S. with employee safety devices. The AT&T Staff Alert Service helps hotel and hospitality employees 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.
In November 2019, the University of Miami and AT&T announced a 5G and Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) trial environment on the Coral Gables campus to help support innovative teaching and research methods. This makes the university the first college campus in the nation to use AT&T’s 5G millimeter wave network (“5G+”) and commercially available MEC technology to allow students and faculty to more efficiently pursue scholarly activities with Magic Leap’s spatial computing platform.
AT&T’s 5G+ technology uses millimeter wave spectrum with ultra-fast speeds, lower latency and the ability to connect a massive number of mobile devices. MEC will help enable the university to shift from processing data at remote data centers to processing information in localized servers. This allows faster data processing and could open new machine learning opportunities and more types of connected devices.
For more on our innovation programs, visit att.com/innovation.
AT&T commits our resources and expertise to help create smart cities that support the growing needs of metropolitan areas and help improve quality of life and create new economic opportunities. In 2016, we released a Smart Cities framework to help communities better serve their citizens and the environment. To date, we’ve collaborated with hundreds of municipalities across the country, including Atlanta; Chicago; Dallas; Chapel Hill, N.C.; Las Vegas; Montgomery County, Md.; Miami-Dade County, Fla.; and San Jose, Calif. We have also partnered with local universities, such as the Georgia Institute of Technology, to study the impact of our Smart Cities solutions.
We work with cities to address their challenges in 5 primary domains: transportation, public safety, infrastructure, energy/utilities and citizen engagement. We start with communications and connectivity, which are the foundation of any smart city – whether through fiber, 4G, 5G, LTE-M NB-IoT technologies or specialized networks like FirstNet. Our Smart Cities solutions gather and harness data to deliver actionable insights about the city and surrounding environment to help enhance the lives of everyone who lives, works, plays and visits. AT&T has strategic relationships with companies that have the technology to support AT&T’s delivery of holistic Smart City solutions. We focus on delivering highly secure and reliable wireless service and a portfolio of solutions that meets the needs of our customers. These solutions include:
- Smart Lighting Controls: Smart Lighting Controls is a cost-effective, modular and expandable platform. The solution is made up of nodes that attach to existing streetlights, forming a network that provides advanced lighting control, utility grade metering, tilt and vibration sensing, and location-based services.
- Fleet Management: We build solutions around fleet telematics, which are a set of intelligent fleet location, management and analysis tools that provide Global Positioning System and Automatic Vehicle Location data to help improve fuel efficiency, enable near-real-time map tracking, reduce fuel consumption by successfully dispatching drivers to optimal routes in near real time and provide interactive alerts that help drivers identify and improve on-road behavior.
- Gunshot Detection: AT&T has aligned with ShotSpotter, the leader in the gunshot detection industry, as part of our Smart City ecosystem. ShotSpotter’s gunshot detection solutions can be installed on streetlights, utility poles, the tops of buildings or other elevated surfaces. They have helped police identify, analyze and respond to gun crime in urban cities.
- Smart Cities – Video Intelligence: The Smart Cities – Video Intelligence solution is an end-to-end solution that enables businesses, government agencies, law enforcement and emergency management to view, search and analyze public and private campus and city-wide data, video analytics and surveillance.
In addition to technological innovation, AT&T recognizes sustainability and inclusion, which are key components of Smart Cities. We engage with our stakeholders and share best practices that municipalities can utilize as they enhance their sustainability goals.
As technology transforms cities around the world, our goal is to ensure it’s designed for everyone – including those with disabilities and older adults. We launched a tool called the Inclusive Innovation Playbook as part of our collaboration with the global initiative “Smart Cities for All.”
AT&T also uses the same Smart Cities technologies available to our customers to help our company operate more efficiently and reduce our carbon footprint. We use AT&T IoT solutions such as Fleet Management, Smart Irrigation, and Energy and Building Management Services within our own operations to improve fleet routing, predictive maintenance, water usage, building energy efficiency and more. AT&T established a 10x Carbon Reduction Goal to enable carbon savings for our customers 10 times that of our own footprint by 2025. It’s part of our IoT for Good mission to use technology to address global challenges and engage all citizens for the greater good.
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