AT&T partners with GE for 'Industrial Internet' connectivity

AT&T (NYSE:T) and General Electric struck a deal that will allow GE's machines connect to AT&T's wireless and cloud networks for GE's "Industrial Internet," its term for the Internet of Things. The deal with AT&T is part of a larger effort by GE to connect more of its machines to the Internet and make them more efficient.

Under the partnership with AT&T, GE said workers will be able to remotely track, monitor, record and operate GE machinery virtually anywhere in the world. The carrier and GE will also work with AT&T's innovation centers to build M2M solutions for GE's software platform, called Predix, which can proactively maintain and remotely control industrial machines.

As part of its overall M2M efforts, GE announced 14 more "Predictivity" products--which make use of its Predix platform--for industries such as oil and gas, healthcare and energy management. These products meld industrial equipment, wireless sensors and software to analyze performance and make devices more efficient. GE now counts a total of 24 Predictivity products. GE announced separate deals with Cisco and Intel related to those new products.

"Everyone wants prediction about performance, and better asset management," William Ruh, vice president of global software at GE, told the New York Times. "The ideas of speed, of information velocity, is what will differentiate the winners from the losers." Ruh said that by next year almost all equipment made by the company will have sensors and Big Data software.

According to GigaOM, Ruh did not clarify the pricing models for the connectivity AT&T will enable, since it's still unclear if GE customers will want to buy connectivity separately or as part of an overall Predictivity package. Ruh told GigaOM he isn't sure yet what customers want but is willing to meet their demands.

For AT&T, the deal represents another win as it looks to beef up its M2M presence and take advantage of its global reach. Earlier this year General Motors announced it will replace Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZ) service with AT&T's service in its OnStar offering beginning in 2014.

"This is a hugely significant win for AT&T," Analysys Mason analyst Morgan Mullooly said. "We expect a tremendous number of M2M connections to be activated in the next two to three years, as millions of industrial components roll off GE production lines fitted with embedded M2M modules and will be dispersed around the globe. Consequently, we expect the deal will strengthen AT&T's position as the leading U.S. M2M service provider by number of connections."

Measuring the machine-to-machine market in mobile is notoriously difficult because there is no standard, industry-accepted method of reporting M2M statistics. However, according to an August analysis and estimates by research firm Current Analysis, AT&T leads the U.S. market with fully 14.7 million M2M connections.

For more:
- see this release
- see this GigaOM article
- see this NYT article

Related Articles:
Who owns the Internet of things?
Qualcomm's new Wi-Fi platform targets Internet of Everything
AT&T opens Atlanta Foundry focused on home automation, connected car
Infonetics: The next generation simply 'gets' M2M and a connected world

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