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AT&T to Flog Smart City Tech to Other Carriers

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US telco giant AT&T is developing smart city offerings that other carriers will be able to resell on their own networks. The company says the move comes in response to enquiries from a number of operators that lack AT&T’s end-to-end capabilities.

“They might have connectivity in the country but not an end-to-end solution for digital infrastructure or a water management system that needs deploying,” said Mike Zeto, who heads up AT&T’s smart cities business, during a conversation with Light Reading at this week’s TM Forum Live event in Nice. “They’ve been saying what do you have that we can resell,” explains Zeto. “So we are in the process of developing SIM-based offerings that other carriers can resell with their connectivity.”

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) set up its smart cities business nearly two years ago and claims it is now as much a software player as a connectivity provider in this area. That makes the potential revenue opportunity much bigger, says Zeto, who estimates that connectivity alone accounts for between 5% and 10% of the “value chain.”

It also distinguishes AT&T from most other telcos, says Zeto. “Operators as a whole cannot do what AT&T can do,” he says. “We are one of the few operators that provides truly end-to-end solutions and that is evidenced by the number of operators that come to us and want to be the channel for what we are producing.”

Zeto says AT&T is developing offerings in-house and also working with partners.

The smart cities initiative has already seen it team up with some of the biggest technology players on the planet, including Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Deloitte, Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM).
Combined with its connectivity and security credentials, that ecosystem gives AT&T a big advantage over standalone systems integrators that are similarly eyeing a pivotal smart cities role, according to Zeto.

“You have to start with connectivity as the thread that weaves through the solution and it has to be scalable and secure,” he says. “Systems integrators aren’t thinking about that but about developing the model in way that allows them to generate consulting revenues from it.”

“We can also bring partners to the table straight away and that expedites the process,” he adds. “Systems integrators have to reach out on an individual basis.” Zeto says the framework that AT&T has developed is widely applicable and that cities in different parts of the world are usually trying to realize similar benefits from investment in smart city technologies.

Having announced projects in a number of North American cities, AT&T in February announced a partnership with authorities in the Irish capital of Dublin, which Zeto describes as a potential “gateway to Europe” given the multitude of technology players and startups that are active in the city.

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