IoT Strategies

AT&T Links With GE on IoT, Smart Energy

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."

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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

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mhhf1ve 4/10/2017 | 1:12:15 PM
Re: The benefits of energy efficiency... > "Do you make special trips (or rationalized trips) to the hardware store exclusively or primarily to recycle your CFLs?"

Nope, I collect my dead CFLs in my garage until I actually need to go to the hardware store to get something (which usually isn't too long, since I have a water softener and my local hardware store is actually the best place to get the salt for it)... :P

I'm starting to buy more LED bulbs now, though, as they get better and cheaper. CFLs are a pain to deal with, admittedly.
Joe Stanganelli 3/31/2017 | 9:27:58 PM
Re: The benefits of energy efficiency... I just don't even buy the CFL bulbs to begin with and stick with the far more affordable incandescents.  ;)

(Personally, I don't like LEDs because they are far too bright for my taste.)

Should it make you feel any better, I'm pretty good about saving electricity and conserving energy in a number of ways -- but I refuse to compromise on my lightbulbs.

P.S. -- Do you make special trips (or rationalized trips) to the hardware store exclusively or primarily to recycle your CFLs?  If so, do you walk/ride your bike/take public transit?

Trying to avoid leaving carbon footprints sometimes is like trying to avoid leaving literal footprints after vacuuming.
mhhf1ve 3/29/2017 | 2:16:57 PM
Re: The benefits of energy efficiency... Luckily, those CFL light bulbs are going out of fashion and LED bulbs are slightly more environmentally friendly. I, for one, always dispose of CFL bulbs at my local hardware store where they have a special bin for accepting hazardous waste.... :)
Joe Stanganelli 3/28/2017 | 8:16:37 PM
Re: The benefits of energy efficiency... @mhh: There are other hidden economic costs and perils -- not to mention environmental ones -- on top of that.

Those damnable CFL bulbs come to mind.  In addition to being practically useless for the first 20-45 minutes that they're on (and sometimes becoming way too bright as time passes), they're chock full off mercury and other poisonous/hazardous chemicals -- so (1) if you break one, it's an enormous hassle to avoid and mitigate the danger, and (2) you're "supposed" to dispose of them in a very particular way -- though I have never met a single person who actually does anything other than throw them out in the garbage like regular lightbulbs (and, really, practically speaking, most people simply aren't going to do that).  So in that way, they're actually *more* harmful to the environment.
Joe Stanganelli 3/28/2017 | 8:13:33 PM
Re: The benefits of energy efficiency... Personally, I think DVR is one of the best inventions of my lifetime, so I am more than happy to wait a while before adjusting the thermostat in favor of DVR use.  ;)
Phil_Britt 2/17/2015 | 7:53:53 AM
Re: The benefits of energy efficiency... Though the results of energy efficiency might be difficult to quantify today, that likely won't be the case in the future as the demands for and costs of energy keep rising. The DVR box many of us have is one of the biggest energy pigs, and as more things become connected, there will be more demands for power. So if you can make sure heat/AC are off/limited when you don't need them, it will make a difference. 
mhhf1ve 2/10/2015 | 4:38:29 PM
The benefits of energy efficiency... The economic benefits of energy efficiency are actually pretty difficult to quantify, so it'll be interesting to see if these partnerships and deployments can shed some light on how energy efficienty programs actually work for reducing usage and costs. (Some economic studies suggest that efficiency programs drive UP usage because costs go down, and then user behavior adapts to the cheaper costs to use even more...)
kq4ym 2/10/2015 | 2:11:17 PM
Re: Connectivity + Intelligence It would seem a GE/AT&T combination is a great PR move with those brands easily eventually linked in consumer's minds. I can just see it now with brand advertising advocating all sorts of new IoT devices and services from the two companies. Cross-promotion is the way of the next advertising boom time in the Iot and energy fields.
danielcawrey 2/9/2015 | 8:15:11 PM
Re: Connectivity + Intelligence Things like smart cities and smart grids are simply going to be standard operating procedure in the future. Companies like GE are going to be producing products and services in this market, but they also need carriers on board in order to transmit all this data. 

Enter AT&T. Carriers like this are salivating on getting more revenue from data as voice services are in a big fat decline. 
jasonmeyers 2/9/2015 | 4:23:04 PM
Re: Connectivity + Intelligence They entered into a global M2M agreement in 2013 that connected "many of GE's machines and assets, such as locomotives, fleet, aircraft engines and, most recently, smart grid infrastructure" to AT&T's network. I don't believe it's exclusive, but given the breadth of it, AT&T probably makes it favorable for them to use its network over others, I would think. 
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