AT&T Business CEO Outlines the Telco's Vision of 5G, IoT, SD-WAN

Day 1 of AT&T's 2018 Business Summit was a flurry of acronyms — and how the telco plans to lead the way in them all.

Kris Blackmon, Head of Channel Communities

September 26, 2018

3 Min Read
Clear Vision

AT&T BUSINESS SUMMIT — Thaddeus Arroyo, CEO of AT&T Business, kicked off the communications giant’s 2018 Business Summit in Dallas Wednesday with the central theme of the conference and what AT&T sees as its mission: betting big on smart cities and manufacturing.

The company wants to be the driver behind bringing 5G technology and internet-of-things (IoT) solutions into the mainstream, and it announced a number of new partnerships and solutions on Day 1 of the Summit. They all revolve around initiatives designed to keep AT&T on the leading edge of connected solutions for a 21st century world.

The telco behemoth continues its focus on the manufacturing sector, which perhaps more than any other industry revolves around automation and hardware and software solutions, is fast becoming a managed-services haven. The industry is the perfect ground in which to germinate industrial IoT solutions, and AT&T has formed several dynamic partnerships to leverage the manufacturing opportunity.

The company announced to about 3,000 attendees that it will partner with Samsung (specifically Samsung Austin Semiconductor) to create a “first-in-America 5G innovation zone.” With AT&T’s 5G wireless tech and Samsung’s 5G networking equipment, the two companies will test use cases and 5G technology solutions for manufacturers in an Austin, Texas, test bed. Next-gen technology terms like 4k video, augmented reality and smart technology flew fast and furious on stage as Arroyo laid out AT&T’s plans to interweave advance solutions into employee training, equipment monitoring and operational-efficiency initiatives.

“This is the future of manufacturing,” Arroyo said. “We believe this work with Samsung in Austin will pave the road for the future of connected factories.”


Thaddeus Arroyo

Thaddeus Arroyo

In another partnership designed to touch the manufacturing sector, among others, the company announced it will partner with IBM and Microsoft to develop a suite of blockchain solutions to apply the decentralized ledger technology to vertical industries. AT&T Solutions will capture data on IBM’s blockchain environment, and AT&T’s Asset Management Operations Center will integrate with other Big Blue platforms to create blockchain-secured service provider networks for infrastructure asset management.

“We view blockchain as being a disruptive presence,” Arroyo said. “Businesses are going to be able to automate and create new digital experiences.” 

For its part, Microsoft will integrate its Azure blockchain solutions with AT&T’s IoT platforms in an effort to simplify the complex supply chains that come with an internet-of-things-powered world.

It came as no surprise that the company unveiled a slew of new IoT initiatives, though the partnerships and focuses raised some thoughtful eyebrows in the audience. In particular, AT&T’s new anti-malicious drone program, developed in partnership with Dedrone, seems like a use case for a world we’re not quite living in yet — but admittedly, that’s what these summits are designed to showcase. Is there a big managed-service market for IoT technology that classifies potentially malicious drones yet? Well, no. But it’s cool nonetheless.

More immediately applicable is a partnership the telco announced with Synchronoss to develop a near real-time energy and building-management solution that works within its smart-cities portfolio. Powered by Synchronoss’ analytics capabilities, the company says the solution can be tailored by industry — a managed service provider’s dream. The solution provides a single cloud-based solution that proactively manages energy-consuming processes like lighting, heating and security across a single building or a network of structures, and lets facility managers remotely monitor and manage energy use and power distribution.

And now, for the cherry on top: AT&T announced that it’s deploying an additional 28,000 SD-WAN global endpoints, which it says will make it the largest SD-WAN provider on the globe. The telco calls it the “edge-to-edge glue” that holds together all of the various programs, technologies, initiatives and global systems that will support an IoT-enabled business landscape — all hopefully running on its virtualized FlexWare platform. Technology analyst firm IDC named AT&T a leader in its first Global MarketScape report on SD-WAN managed services.

“The pace of change is only accelerating,” Arroyo told attendees. AT&T is determined to set that pace.

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About the Author(s)

Kris Blackmon

Head of Channel Communities, Zift Solutions

Kris Blackmon is head of channel communities at Zift Solutions. She previously worked as chief channel officer at JS Group, and as senior content director at Informa Tech and project director of the MSP 501er Community. Blackmon is chair of CompTIA's Channel Development Advisory Council and operates KB Consulting. You may follow her on LinkedIn and @zift on X.

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