AT&T's NumberSync: A Long Time Coming

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.

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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

Atlantis-dude 12/19/2015 | 11:03:45 AM
Re: much better yes .. but would customers even get have an option if they were to discontinue the service?
DanJones 12/16/2015 | 8:52:22 AM
Re: much better I'll ask but I think the point is to get more devices on contract and on the network so...
Atlantis-dude 12/15/2015 | 11:50:41 PM
much better than being dependent on the phone. wonder if they will give a wifi only option
DanJones 12/15/2015 | 5:01:30 PM
Re: Benefits... Oh yeah, I bet they're hoping to get their device add-ons this way.
KBode 12/15/2015 | 4:54:54 PM
Re: Benefits... Got it. makes sense. Imagine it helps in not only selling contract devices, but getting more devices to shared data plans as well?
DanJones 12/15/2015 | 4:48:51 PM
Re: Benefits... 1. Range. Your phone can be more than 10 feet away.

2. Works even if the phone has run out of power.
KBode 12/15/2015 | 4:42:53 PM
Benefits... So I'm still not sure I understand the benefits of this over, say, just having everything Bluetooth connected?
DanJones 12/15/2015 | 4:38:30 PM
NumberSync is SkyNet?!!!!! Ooopsy! Okey dokey,

Some people might be ascribing a bit too much intelligence to AT&T's NumberSync! 

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