MWC 2019: AT&T and Vodafone partner on automotive IoT

AT&T and Vodafone Business have announced an alliance on developing solutions and accelerating adoption across connected cars.

AT&T and Vodafone Business have announced at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019 in Barcelona that they will be cooperating on Internet of Things (IoT) applications across the automotive space, including safety, security, and entertainment.

The two said they will develop connected car solutions for combined customers in the North American, European, and African markets.

"AT&T and Vodafone Business understand the complexity of global deployments," the companies said.

"The goal is to simplify the deployment process, improve operations, deliver innovative solutions, and make the network certification process easier."

Vodafone Business IoT director Stefano Gastaut added that its work with AT&T will assist car manufacturers by simplifying the process and providing "a consistent experience to accelerate IoT adoption" in the space.

Specifically, the companies said they will be working across 5G and autonomous vehicle technology; vehicle-to-everything (V2X) capabilities; in-vehicle entertainment; connected car applications and services; global service quality models; and the intersection of connected cars and smart cities.

Collectively, AT&T and Vodafone Business work with almost 50 automotive brands across the globe, with more than 43 million cars and trucks on the road already connected by them.

AT&T has also been working on the American Center for Mobility, located near Detroit.

"We've built out what we call the American Center for Mobility, which is up in Ypsilanti in Michigan, it's meant to be one of the top autonomous proofing grounds in the United States, and we are the exclusive network provider for all networks there, up to and including 5G," IoT head Chris Penrose told ZDNet.

"So our team, because we work so closely with the output of community and we were being asked early on about how do we get in front of 5G -- because they're already planning their cars for 2021, 2022 already -- how can they start being able to get really close and understand the technologies, so this is something we've led."

AT&T is also working with former Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie on a system-on-module (SoM) called Notecard, which they said would embed communications for IoT devices via cellular connectivity instead of unreliable, unsecure Wi-Fi.

"Notecard makes it possible to economically connect things like home appliances, alarm systems, meters, tank level controls, construction equipment, HVAC systems, locks and gates, vending machines, and more, including applications that can improve operations and provide supply chain transparency," AT&T said.

It works across both LTE-M and narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) networks.

The 5G Innovation Program

AT&T has also announced a 5G innovation project alongside Cisco, Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia, Microsoft, Intel, WarnerMedia, Infosys, and Magic Leap.

AT&T, which earlier this month added Chicago and Minneapolis to its 2019 roadmap of 5G network services, said the 5G Innovation Program would "jumpstart work with app developers, content creators, device makers and network vendors" across public, consumer, and enterprise 5G.

"Each is working with AT&T to develop ideas and test use cases on our live mobile 5G network using cutting-edge devices and industry-leading core services," AT&T said.

Use cases will cover entertainment, education, gaming, navigation, retail, and sports, with AT&T adding another 5G lab in Santa Clara, California, to its R&D labs.

Read more: AT&T 5G: Behind the scenes in Texas as the new mobile network goes live

With Samsung, AT&T is creating a 5G innovation zone in Austin, Texas; with Magic Leap, it is planning on launching a 5G innovation zone in Plantation, Florida, so developers can test devices and use cases on a live network; and with Warner Media, it is working on 5G in the "content innovation lab" to explore entertainment use cases across AR, VR, MR, and gaming.

The carrier also announced working with VMware software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) VeloCloud across its 5G network, now offering SD-WAN services on its AT&T wireless broadband offering.

"AT&T wireless broadband is part of our fixed-wireless pillar in our strategy to bring 5G to businesses. Businesses will now be able to use SD-WAN with AT&T's nationwide cellular network for the first time, and can easily upgrade to 5G when it's ready through a simple modem change," AT&T said.

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