AT&T moves closer to embedded wireless vision

One of the big impediments to AT&T's embedded wireless vision has been resolved. The company yesterday inked an exclusive deal with M2M firm Jasper Wireless to have Jasper provide the activation, billing and connectivity support for all the embedded wireless devices (both consumer and M2M) that AT&T connects to its network.

This may sound like just your typical back office support but it's not. When I spoke with Glenn Lurie, president of AT&T's emerging devices and resale division, yesterday about the deal, he said Jasper is providing an "elaborate set of tools that will allow us to do all the things that we envisioned." Those tools include provisioning, billing and activation.   "People will be impressed with the tools and how we deliver the customer experience," Lurie said.

It's interesting AT&T will be the exclusive carrier in the U.S. to have Jasper's platform. Lurie said that because the two companies will be working in close partnership, exclusivity was necessary. Cindy Patterson, executive vice president, worldwide sales and marketing at Jasper said Jasper was willing to have an exclusive deal because having AT&T as its partner means Jasper now can offer customers (such as a consumer electronics device maker) the ability to deploy a device in the U.S. and in another country where Jasper has a carrier deal, such as KPN in the Netherlands.

But perhaps the most critical element to this deal is the total cost of ownership figures Patterson quoted. She said that currently these embedded devices have a TCO of 90 cents per month -- that's the cost to provision the device, provide customer care and other support. While it may not sound like a lot of money, when you consider that many of these devices will have an ARPU of $5 or lower, it is a substantial chunk. Patterson says Jasper's system can reduce the cost by 87 cents. "Carriers have to keep the costs down for this to make sense," Patterson says.

Now that Jasper and AT&T have teamed on this embedded wireless vision, I'll be interested to see how quickly we will see these types of devices roll out on AT&T's network.  Lurie promises it won't be long. - Sue

P.S. FierceWireless will be hosting a virtual event (that means you don't have leave your desk!)  on embedded wireless devices June 9. AT&T's Glenn Lurie and T-Mobile USA's John Horn are just a few of the speakers we have confirmed. Check out the agenda here.