AT&T launches new innovation center in Plano

AT&T announced plans to open new innovation centers in Atlanta and Plano, Texas, to open in coming months, giving it a total of five such centers worldwide.

The new Plano facility, to be located one floor above an existing AT&T innovation center, will be devoted to machine-to-machine and connected devices technology.

"The goal is to identify groundbreaking ideas, whether inside or outside AT&T and turn them into products and services as quickly as possible," said John Donovan, senior executive vice president for AT&T technology. The centers aren't showcases or even research labs, but are "launching pads" for next-generation applications and services, he added.

Since the $100 million innovation center program launched in 2011, AT&T has launched dozens of products. The program has taking some ideas from initial idea to product beta in about six months -- three times faster than was done in the past.

Donovan cited two award-winning projects that came from the labs, a personalized video bill service to help explain wireless bills and an updated Self-Optimizing Network (SON) first created by Intucell. A SON is described as management technology that detects when a cell tower is overloaded and automatically shifts users to a nearby cell tower. To date, AT&T uses the technology in 30 markets.

In addition to the two new centers and the other Alcatel-Lucent-sponsored one in Plano, AT&T also has a foundry innovation center in Palo Alto, Calif., that's sponsored by Ericsson, and another in Ra'anana, Israel that's sponsored by Amdocs. (06/25/13)

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