AT&T announces initiative to bring connectivity to consumer electronics

AT&T announced an initiative to bring wireless connectivity to new consumer electronics devices and applications--including personal computers, mobile Internet devices or mini computers, in-car entertainment and navigation systems, cameras and machine-to-machine communications solutions.

AT&T appointed Glenn Lurie to head the Emerging Devices initiative. The initiative is similar to what Sprint and Clearwire envision for WiMAX. Clearwire, which is expected to bring Sprint's WiMAX business in the fold by the end of the year, wants to embed WiMAX chips into a plethora of devices. Verizon Wireless is working closely with device makers and distribution partners to build momentum behind this "wireless in every device" vision.

What will be interesting to see is the amount of control AT&T tries to wield over the process as such a move could relegate an operator to a "dumb pipe" status. The Clearwire open-access network is envisioned to enable a whole host of devices and applications without Clearwire touching the process. Interestingly, Ben Wolff, CEO of Clearwire, said his company is actually concerned about becoming a commodity because of this open-access strategy.

"The expectation is that we want to sell value-added services," Wolff said during FierceWireless' virtual event, The Future of 4G. "We have to be able to deliver services in a way that has the right to earn the customer's business. Our view is people will be able to use us just for access if they want, but our job is creating enhanced services that our customers really want."

For more:
- read FierceWireless
- And, check out our "Future of 4G" virtual event. All panel sessions will be archived for several months. Register here.