AT&T to license Digital Life home automation tech to Telefónica in Europe

LAS VEGAS-- AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) is partnering with Telefónica for a limited trial of AT&T's Digital Life home security and automation service in Europe. The trial represents the first time AT&T has expanded Digital Life outside of the U.S., where it is currently available in more than 80 markets.

glenn lurie ATT CEO digital life

AT&T Mobility CEO Glenn Lurie discusses the carrier's new Digital Life announcements

Additionally, AT&T announced a new set of services called Digital Life Care that are centered on home health monitoring for the elderly. AT&T executives announced both initiatives at a media event held at a spacious home in the Las Vegas suburbs set up to showcase the Digital Life platform.

Telefónica is licensing the technology behind the all-IP platform, and AT&T said it is working with Telefónica to deploy the software and on-the-ground resources needed to conduct the trial. Telefónica CMO Michael Duncan told FierceWireless that the companies have not decided where the trial will be conducted and are having the technology vetted and validated by European regulators.

Duncan added that he expects the trial to include around 750 customers and that Telefónica aims to commercially launch Digital Life services in the first quarter of 2015. The companies did not say how much the services will cost.

Duncan added that Telefónica sees Digital Life as an "open platform that enables you to go build in services as technology progresses," and that there is a great deal of potential in the home automation market. "We see huge opportunities for the category," he added.  

AT&T said it can customize the user experience that Telefónica will manage and host on its network. AT&T owns the Digital Life platform but will license it to  other carriers. An AT&T spokesman declined to comment on future deals with other carriers, but said the Digital Life platform "was designed for multi-country use and we see it as a great way for OEM's and developers to extend new services to global markets while reducing churn and attracting new customers."

AT&T's Digital Life Care announcement is significant because of the growing market opportunity represented  the aging population. Citing data from AARP, AT&T noted that for the next 20 years, 10,000 Americans will turn 65 each day. Annual assisted living costs are projected to start at $50,000 a year in 2015. And 25 percent of adults today are caregivers to elderly or disabled persons.   

"When we first decided to get into this business, it was about building platform," AT&T Mobility CEO Glenn Lurie said. "And it was about building a platform that is extensible to other areas."

Lurie noted that Digital Life Care is designed to give informal care givers "a whole new set of tools." Another key goal is to give the aging population the option to "remain independent and stay at home longer vs. having to go to some kind of assisted living."

The platform will include devices, advanced monitoring and other capabilities. Lurie said the digital home care market is not just a large business opportunity for AT&T but that " it feels like the right thing based on the impact it will have."

Some of the technologies AT&T demonstrated included a sensor in a drawer that turns on a light on a nightstand when the drawer opened; a motion detector on the foot of a bed that turns on lights when it detects someone has gotten out of bed; a monitor on a fridge that can send an alert to a care giver to let them know if an elderly person is eating or taking medicine; and a water detector that can let a care giver remotely shut off a water valve in a home if a flood is detected.

The company Essence already offers a similar service called [email protected], and in-home healthcare could potentially be a large opportunity for wireless-focused companies.

AT&T will conduct limited employee trials of Digital Life Care in Atlanta and Dallas this year and commercially launch the service in 2015.

AT&T has started testing third-party products that integrate with Digital Life, but has not said when it will be commercially available. AT&T has also targeted business users at small-, medium- and large-sized corporations and the healthcare market as two key areas where it will expand Digital Life.

AT&T executives have repeatedly touted Digital Life as a potential $1 billion business that can help the carrier boost growth amid rising smartphone penetration. 

For more:
- see this Telefónica release
- see Digital Life Care release

Related Articles:
AT&T to open up Digital Life home security and automation systems to third-party products
AT&T to expand Digital Life into business, healthcare markets
AT&T hits milestone of 50 Digital Life markets by year-end
AT&T pitching Digital Life to Comcast, Cox, TWC homes with launch in 6 new markets
Operators look to 'fourth wave' as voice, messaging and data revenues start to decline
AT&T opens Atlanta Foundry focused on home automation, connected car

Article updated Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. PT with additional information from AT&T.

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