AT&T has bolstered its partnership with GE, targeting small and midsized utility companies looking to deploy smart energy solutions and leverage the Internet of Things (IoT).
Much of General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE)'s infrastructure and assets have been connected via AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s network since 2013. Now, the two companies are also creating smart energy IoT applications concepts at the AT&T IoT Foundry in Plano, Texas.
At the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, AT&T showed a commitment to expanding its IoT role beyond supplying undifferentiated connectivity and into providing solutions for applications creation, delivery and management. One of the results of that and the collaboration with GE is a way for utility companies to move to the smart grid, says Mobeen Khan, executive director, industrial Internet of Things solutions, AT&T Mobile and Business Solutions. (See AT&T Steps Up Its IoT Offensive.)
"We are offering a fully connected GE meter through AT&T, and AT&T is offering that into the market directly to small and midsized utilities," Khan says. "That will allow comps like GE's customers or our customers to connect any customers they want to connect."
AT&T provides connectivity on its network for utilities' connected devices, as well as a prepaid solution for utilities to offer their customers, Khan says. All of it is aimed toward streamlining the process of smart grid solutions for smaller utilities that might not have the resources to implement them on their own.
"It's operational efficiency as well as risk management for the utilities," he says. "We've made it very easy for utilities to have connected device solutions."
Even some larger utilities -- including some that operate their own communications infrastructure to manage smart grid operations -- have begun to turn to partnerships with service providers to help them not only connect to the IoT, but also create utility-specific solutions and manage connected devices.
"Even some of the large ones are coming back and saying this is not my core competence," Khan says. "It's not just buying the meter -- you have to manage all of that year-over-year. That's a significant investment that we take off their hands."
In terms of the industrial IoT, Khan says the top industry segments for AT&T are asset tracking, utilities, smart cities and managing industrial assets. For utilities, smart energy solutions from AT&T can mean operational efficiencies as well as better visibility into issues like outages and more ability to be predictive.
"Utility companies are in the business of demand and supply of power, and how to distribute it in the best way possible," Khan says. "We are in the business of giving them the infrastructure to manage that."
— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, Light Reading