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AT&T and IBM prepare their latest joint co-innovation lab for the public sector

AT&T and IBM are collaborating to help companies leverage hybrid cloud computing and private 5G networks.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

About a year and a half after launching a collaboration to help companies leverage hybrid cloud computing over private 5G networks, AT&T and IBM are in the process of opening up their third joint co-innovation site. The new simulation environment, located at the IBM Bethesda Lab in Maryland, will extend their joint involvement in the public sector, giving government customers an environment to test cellular, AI and cloud technologies. 

AT&T and IBM launched the collaboration in late 2020 and have since opened up co-innovation sites at two other locations. IBM Yorktown, the headquarters for IBM Research, is now enabled with AT&T 5G, enabling customers to work with researchers, designers and consultants from both companies. AT&T and IBM are also co-innovating at the AT&T 5G Innovation Studio in Plano, Texas to apply AI and machine learning for network insights. 

"One of the challenges that enterprises have to face when you think about 5G, cloud and edge computing is that it's accelerating pretty fast," William Stovall, AT&T's VP of mobility & IoT, said to ZDNet. "The challenge is, how do I undertake this, and how do I put it into practice. So to give enterprise customers a vehicle to see it in the works, and to have the opportunity to co-create, is a benefit that allows them a better roadmap to actually deploy these technologies."

The co-innovation labs are designed to serve a range of industries, with clear use cases in areas like manufacturing and health care. The public sector has a number of compelling use cases, like delivering 5G-enabled communication services to first responders, or providing AR/VR environments to the military. 

The opening of the new simulation lab will be particularly timely, given the imperative to protect government data from escalating cybersecurity threats. The Biden administration has taken a number of steps to secure the country's digital systems, beginning last year with an executive order requiring agencies to improve their cybersecurity.

"IBM has a lot of experience and background in security and AI and analytics that can lead to a more sophisticated understanding of how to improve both security and performance of those edge deployments," Hillery Hunter, CTO of IBM Cloud, said to ZDNet.  "You do want to make sure that you have the right analytics and such in place so that you can deliver the best possible experience to users at the edge, as well as ensure the safety of those edge deployed environments... It's definitely one plus one equals three, in the sense of combining IBM security and AI capabilities with AT&T's capabilities."

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