AT&T Georgia: Connectivity and the Internet of Things

Lucy Adams

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Fast, smart and reliable broadband networks have led to tremendous innovation in the communications industry. Broadband plays a larger role than ever before in the day-to-day lives of consumers. While technology continues to transform the communications landscape, service providers enhance the lives of consumers with products and services designed to improve the mobile experience and increase connection speeds. 

Citizens in four Georgia cities will soon encounter connectivity like never before. AT&T is bringing its GigaPower fiber-optic network to Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Decatur and Newnan, with the possibility of expansion to other parts of the state. GigaPower for Augusta is in the exploratory stage. This infrastructure will deliver Internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second. That’s fast enough to download 25 songs in one second or an entire HD movie in 36 seconds. Not only does this unprecedented Internet speed improve usability for the general consumer, it also opens new possibilities for small businesses, for entrepreneurs and for innovators.

Already launched in three Texas cities and two North Carolina cities, with the deployment process in motion for a host of other locals, the initial feedback has been outstanding. The target launch date for Georgia has yet to be identified, but construction has begun. AT&T continues to work with the identified municipalities and county governments to keep the project on track. “We’re excited to see more and more cities and counties helping to streamline processes, to see that they recognize that consumers, customers and constituents who live in their area want these products,” says Beth Shiroishi, President, AT&T Georgia.

The acquisition of DirectTV later this year will further diversify AT&T’s products and services in Georgia. “The bringing together of AT&T and DirectTV will offer Georgians more choices in how they connect and more control over how they get services,” she says. Rural customers in particular will enjoy a broader menu of options.

AT&T has evolved into a complex communications provider – perhaps facilitator may even be a better word – since the first phone call was made in 1876. Shiroishi says, “The miracle of that was two people being able to talk to each other and not be in the same room. The miracle today is we have things talking to things, we have devices talking to devices, we have cars talking to smart infrastructure, in some cases without people needing to be in the middle of that.” By creating networks where people and things can interface, AT&T contributes to inspiring new ways for patients and physicians to communicate, alternative avenues for commerce, online learning platforms and more.

The line between the communications industry and the technology industry fades daily. Shiroishi says, “The technology and communication worlds are becoming a shared-infrastructure ecosystem.” Each supports the other. This was the driving concept behind opening the first AT&T Foundry innovation center – where projects combine business design and technical resources – in 2011. The Atlanta location celebrated its one year anniversary this past September.  During the first year, it mentored 419 students and entrepreneurs, hosted 1000 visitors and invested over one million dollars in innovation. Coming out of the work done there is what is being called the Internet of Things, in other words, explorations and advancements in the realm of devices sharing information with each other.

The Drive Studio, also in Atlanta, combines the communications capabilities of AT&T with efforts to enhance automobile safety and diagnostics to create “connected cars.” As a result, AT&T has announced car technology deals with major automakers like GM, BMW, Ford, Nissan, Volvo and Tesla. Connected car technology capitalizes on the same airwaves that carry cell, voice and data plans. Shiroishi says, “The pace of innovation there is mind boggling.”

Human knowledge and skill, however, make the eco-systems like the Foundry and The Drive Studio successful. Education builds human knowledge and skill. The AT&T Foundation has responded with a national strategic giving and philanthropy plan that focuses on education. As part of that priority, the Foundation understands that each state has different demographics and different needs. Speaking to that, Shiroishi says, “For Georgia, we have the ability to look at what our community’s needs are and assess what that means for us as a company, where those things intersect and the best way to target our giving and involvement. It leads to a place where there’s shared value.”

It’s all connected – we’re all connected – and not just by telephone anymore. “We’ve moved from being a company that impacted a part of people’s lives to being one that now is a part of everything people do,” says Shiroishi. “Our company, our vision is to connect people with their world everywhere they live and work.” Looking into the future, AT&T is at the helm of not only connecting people to their world, but also mobilizing their world to work for them.