AT&T's new NumberSync service shows the flexibility of 4G LTE networks to enable attractive new services for users, but also just how long it can take to make new offerings available to the public.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) first announced the NumberSync service in October. It is intended to link your phone -- via the network -- to your other devices and wearables. You can get an alert, text or call on any device that is associated with you, even if your phone is switched off, as long as the other devices have 3G or 4G connectivity.
AT&T said Tuesday that it is initially making the NumberSync service available for the Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) Gear S2 smartwatch. It is offering the wearable for $99.99 with a two-year contract for the holiday period to generate interest in the sync service.
"We'll have more to share on future devices soon," the operator says in a statement.
This service, however, has been on AT&T's radar for well over a year already. In September 2014, AT&T executives were calling the idea "twinning" and were already saying the capability was unique. (See IMS at the Heart of AT&T's Internet of Things.)
Associating a number with multiple devices and passing communications forward to a user's active device is enabled by the network's IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) core. The operator was deploying IMS routers in the field last year. As well as sync services, IMS also helps to enable voice-over-LTE (VoLTE). (See AT&T's Rinne: Carriers Working on VoLTE Interoperability.)
The Sync service should get interesting for AT&T as it rolls out to more devices. No more sweating on your expensive smartphone in the gym, you can leave it in the locker and just take your watch. AT&T's work with connected cars also suggested that it should be able to enable hands-free messages and alerts wirelessly delivered to the dashboard via the user's phone in the future.
As the long process of deploying IMS shows, however, delivering innovative new services can be a long, drawn out process.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading