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Uber Thumbs a Wireless Ride With AT&T

Private car ordering service Uber is hooking up with AT&T, with the operator acting as a key US wireless services provider for drivers and pre-loading the app on Android phones it sells from this summer.

Startup Uber describes the tie-up as "a first-of-its-kind alliance" in a blog. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) will be one of Uber's "key providers of new wireless service to drivers" on the platform, which is available in more than 60 US cities. Uber has expanded service to 100 cities worldwide following its massive $258 million funding round in August 2013. (See Baby, You Can Fund My Car: Uber Drives August VC.)

And it's looking for further backing: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said during a Recode Conference session Wednesday that the startup is looking to raise more money.

Uber is facing revitalized competition from rival startup Lyft, which closed a $250 million investment round in April. (See Lyft Drives Mobile VC Funding to $1.4B in April.)

For AT&T, the Uber engagement is yet another sign of its desire to be at the heart of the growing connected car ecosystem. The operator is currently working with GM, Audi, Tesla, Volvo, BMW, Nissan and others on connected car platforms, services and applications. (See AT&T Makes GM Cars a Data Plan Add-On and Volvo: AT&T HSPA+ Can Drive My Car.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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Dan-hoffman 10/25/2019 | 5:07:34 AM
Uber Thumbs a Wireless Ride With AT&T While the iPhone didn't offer a wireless option, the first Apple Car was able to ride in the hands of a person who'd had enough of their cell service on the go. At the conference, Apple explained that its driverless taxis were able to operate without a cell signal, because the only cellular service available in the car was from AT&T's LTE network. The car can then communicate with its own Wi-Fi and cellular networks to connect to other vehicles.

This is a major upgrade from Google's current system of working around cellular services. It's also a big win for Apple as the Cupertino company has traditionally struggled to retain employees who are passionate about its products and use the company's services. In the case of the cars in the demo, that didn't go as planned, with employees not being able to participate in a controlled environment. This isn't a deal breaker, though, because Apple also promised to make its service available to all car, truck and bus operators.

Google and Uber are clearly taking things one step further with the integration
adamjones 7/22/2016 | 7:29:07 AM
Re: partnership Uber and AT&T makes it easier than ever to sign up for an AT&T personal plan and make the most of time spent on the road. Uber is evolving the way the world moves. The company's goal is to "make sure that anyone can open the Uber app anywhere and be able to connect with a safe, reliable and seamless ride through the Uber app,
mhhf1ve 6/4/2014 | 6:59:37 PM
Uber vs Lyft.. I get that the value of being Uber (or Lyft) is greatly enhanced by being the dominant marketplace (so they can be the eBay of car sharing), so this partnership makes total sense to Uber to get its app out in the hands of anyone who might even want to try it.

But at the end of the day, is Uber (or Lyft) really sitting on a huge market? If they displace the entire taxicab industry... have they made back their investors' money? Or is the ride sharing market much much bigger than that? 
sarahthomas1011 5/30/2014 | 10:35:08 AM
Re: partnership details Yeah, that's the other thing -- Uber is still not in a lot of cities. So, if you live basically anywhere besides a major city, then why would you want it pre-installed? 
KBode 5/30/2014 | 8:47:47 AM
Re: partnership details Just as long as users (especially those in markets where Uber is banned) can uninstall it when they want. My devices already come with enough applications I don't use that I'm not allowed to eliminate despite owning the device.
kq4ym 5/30/2014 | 8:31:52 AM
Re: partnership details Probably a very smart move on both parts. Of couse Uber is going to see the most immediate benefits, but AT&T will ultimately gain over the long haul as it get associated with more and more of these type of cross-promotion deals.
briandnewby 5/29/2014 | 2:28:47 PM
Re: partnership details I definitely agree Uber needs AT&T more than AT&T needs Uber.

The enabler thing is really simplistic, just that the network is the backbone for applications.  Going forward, though, we would target new white-space wholesale opportunities to be, essentially, market makers at times.

Sad story--I had an intern look at the potential for video downloads in the early 2000s, thinking that Sprint had an opportunity there, maybe--particularly if this nutty idea ever took off that theaters would use digital projectors.

Our intern felt that online gaming (not yet a thing) would be a bigger deal, perhaps.  We presented all of this and literally were laughed at (a president of a Sprint division, no longer there).

That intern went to have enjoy a great career at Verizon.

I hopped in a cab a few years ago and someone had left an annual report supplement for Level 3, demonstrating how it owned this market space.  10 percent of its revenue at the time was coming from the potential companies we listed (the presentation had the logos, just like ours did).

I scanned it then and just re-read the Powerpoint, including the slide that began, "Online Video is a Major Source of Demand Growth." 

Anyway, I think this is where I type some hashtag followed by missed opportunities.
DanJones 5/29/2014 | 1:39:48 PM
Re: partnership details This is not just Uber drivers with Android phones, AT&T plans to pre-install the Uber app on Android phones it could sell to all its subscribers/new customers from this summer. 


I double-checked with AT&T, they say:

"The Uber app will be embedded on new AT&T Android smartphones later this year. We expect to announce the first device with Uber this summer."
sarahthomas1011 5/29/2014 | 1:39:16 PM
Re: partnership details I think Uber needs AT&T more than AT&T needs it, but I agree it's a bit strange. What do you mean by the "enabler concept"?
briandnewby 5/29/2014 | 1:38:08 PM
Re: partnership details You know, one other goofy idea--such a partnership, whatever that means, could also mean that AT&T encourages employees to use Uber when traveling.  Maybe this is a reverse Uber to business sale.

Just trying :-), although if they aren't doing this kind of thing with large companies, I think they should.  Being able to market to large companies' employees might be a clever way to gain critical mass in order to have more weight when fighting cities' taxi regulations.
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