Optical/IP Networks

Battle of the Carrier Innovation Centers

Wireless operators know they need to do a better job working with developers to build applications for their Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks, and they're showing their commitment with facilities to welcome them in and foster innovation. These Innovation Centers are more than just window dressing too, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless want developers to know. To make their case, last week both carriers talked up in Texas some prototypes that they've built through their respective Innovation Centers -- AT&T at a tour of its Foundry Facility in Plano and Verizon during a keynote address at the TIA 2011 show in Grapevine. (See Verizon Breaks Ground on LTE Innovation Center and AT&T's Dapper Den for App Developers.)

AT&T has had its Apps creation station up and running in a former Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) plant in Plano since February. Jon Summers, AT&T's SVP of application and service infrastructure, invited LR Mobile there last week to share some real-life success stories from its work with developers. Click the picture below to launch a slide show inside the developer den and read on for AT&T's favorite creations to date.

  • AT&T has been working with Apigee to find ways to expose its network and billing APIs [application programming interfaces] faster.

  • Developer Sencha is helping AT&T build an HTML 5 software development kit. As with Apigee, AT&T sought out Sencha to help it translate Web apps to consumer services.

  • On the video front, AT&T is working with developers to turn mobile phones and other devices into servers for its IPTV service U-Verse and to build companion viewing experiences on the phone. Developers are also collaborating to help simplify the U-Verse bill into a video format.

Verizon houses its LTE Innovation Center in Waltham, Mass, and plans to open an Application Innovation Center in San Francisco this summer. Both will feature labs for testing new services and experience centers for showcasing them. The carrier already has more than 60 developers and over 30 prototypes near ready for launching as services, according to Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) CTO Tony Melone, who shared a few examples with TIA attendees in his keynote address last week. (See TIA: Verizon Sees Need for Speed.)

  • The first is Live Edge, a product for the video industry that integrates an LTE device into a standard TV camera to transmit live high-definition TV back to video studios anywhere an LTE network is present. The technology negates the need for time-consuming microwave or satellite shots.

  • The second prototype is Media Tile, a portable kiosk that connects consumers with a live service representative. It's being targeted at the retail industry and verticals such as banking and health care.

  • Melone's third example was of a high-resolution SLR camera used by remote field operations and utility workers out on site that can automatically share images over the LTE network.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 5:04:51 PM
re: Battle of the Carrier Innovation Centers

Verizon's Live Edge sounds good. In Sweden, TV broadcasters used TeliaSonera's LTE network for live coverage of the royal wedding last year.

So now, TeliaSonera can call itself the "Official Love Operator"!




sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:04:51 PM
re: Battle of the Carrier Innovation Centers

These are three good examples from both carriers, but they have been promoting them for awhile, while also noting the hundreds of developers they'll see through this program. I hope to see more results towards the end of the year. And, not just of cool apps developers have created that either carrier absorbs, but apps that will benefit the whole industry.

AT&T doesn't seem to have a clear answer to how apps developed at the Foundry tie in with what the Wholesale Applications Center is aiming to do.

cnwedit 12/5/2012 | 5:04:49 PM
re: Battle of the Carrier Innovation Centers

I also want to see results - especially in what comes into the field. There is lots of innovation going on but there's a fair amount of it that doesn't reach the market. Verizon was showing innovations on the wireline side at Waltham four years ago that still aren't part of the FiOS portfolio, often for business case reasons.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:04:48 PM
re: Battle of the Carrier Innovation Centers


I guess I question the kind of company and application that would use one of these innovation centers.  The model would seem to be the kind of company who wanted to sell "an app" to Verizon or AT&T.  If one wants to sell to a consumer or a business, this seems to be not all that useful.



sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:04:48 PM
re: Battle of the Carrier Innovation Centers

That's a good point. The fancy facilities certainly look nice, but I wonder how open and productive they actually are. I'd like to talk to developers more about this.

Anyone out there tried knocking on The Foundry's door with a good idea? They say you can...


cnwedit 12/5/2012 | 5:04:48 PM
re: Battle of the Carrier Innovation Centers

I think they generate a lot of ideas, including lots of good ones. To their credit, they are trying to innovate.

But it's harder than it looks to monetize some of what they find, and it can also be hard to get some ideas past regulators.

One of the things Verizon showed me years back was the ability to base the ads you see on TV on Web queries you'd recently made. For example, since I'm in Dublin and have been surfing for tourist-y things here the last few weeks, I would have seen ads for Irish hotels or been offered discounts on rental cars in Ireland while watching recent Cubs games.

Chances are privacy advocates would shoot that one down in a skinny minute, which is probably why it hasn't come to market.

Which is too bad for me because ads like that would have been more entertaining than a lot of the recent Cubs games.


sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:04:43 PM
re: Battle of the Carrier Innovation Centers

You're right, and that's something AT&T more or less admitted. Summers said that a lot of the times the work with developers turns into a traditional process for AT&T in which they essentially buy the tech, but one point he made - they did this in a lot shorter time than they used to and the developers got access to resources they wouldn't have otherwise had at The Foundry (like the LTE network).

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