Years in the making, the single SIM offering that AT&T unveiled at Mobile World Congress (MWC) on Monday represents a huge achievement, according to at least one executive who worked closely on the project.
“This is one of the most significant things we have accomplished,” said Glenn Lurie, president of emerging segments, AT&T. “We’re very excited about it. This is about giving people a true global footprint under one platform.”
It’s a worldwide platform solution featuring a single SIM that offers significant global coverage. AT&T works with about 600 operators worldwide to provide roaming. Jasper Wireless is an important partner, he said. AT&T developed the SIM in-house.
It’s not too dissimilar from what AT&T has been doing for the Amazon Kindle in managing a worldwide service. But now, any company, like an auto maker, that does business in multiple markets around the globe can contract with AT&T for a single SIM that will enable it to work in multiple regions.
Lurie was at the Connected House in the courtyard outside Hall 2 on the first day of the conference to showcase new developments in emerging devices. When they first started working on this year’s version of the house about a year ago, he figured it would include a lot of futuristic stuff that wouldn’t be immediately available. Turns out, “what we’re doing today, we can sell it now,” he said.
Lurie has been on a mission to connect anything that “has a current running through it,” as he calls it, and his team has done a good job dedicating themselves to finding those “things.” At the same time, he says, “we’re just scratching the surface.”
Other partners in the house besides AT&T are Korea Telecom and Vodafone and vendors like Qualcomm, Ericsson and Sony.
Last week, AT&T announced plans to launch AT&T Digital Life, an IP-based remote monitoring and automation platform to equip global service providers with the capabilities to offer their subscribers customizable, web-based home automation, energy and security services. The service is targeted at service providers outside the U.S.
Pricing wasn’t announced. Customers might just want pieces of the platform and it’s fully customizable, he said. Digital Life includes licensed software development kits and other services like hardware certification, application hosting and technical and integration support. It’s expected to be available later this year.
Asked if AT&T would consider selling Wi-Fi only devices, Lurie reiterated that’s not in the cards. He says Wi-Fi-only is only half a device; “these devices are anytime, anywhere devices,” and customers don’t want to wait to find a hotspot. “We believe every device deserves and needs to have wide area wireless.”
That means something considering AT&T has been at the forefront of acquiring Wi-Fi spots and using Wi-Fi as an offload mechanism. Operators’ big revenue comes from 3G and not Wi-Fi connections but integrating Wi-Fi more with the rest of the network has been a theme leading up to this week’s show.