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AT&T Outlines 5G Plans, Tells Partners, ‘You Have to Get a Strategy’

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CHANNEL PARTNERS EVOLUTION — Your business is well behind the 5G curve if you haven’t started a mobility practice.

Christina Cheng, AT&T’s AVP of enterprise mobility solutions, shared her company’s 5G strategy with partners Tuesday. She emphasized during her Channel Partners Evolution keynote that 5G is so much more than upgraded 4G.

Cheng, Christina_AT&T

AT&T’s Christina Cheng

Three significant changes are new radio that will enable “massive business connections,” edge and distribute computing that comprise a “next-gen core” and new spectrum.

AT&T has arranged its 5G go-to-market strategy around three pillars to assure that partners have tangible opportunities. The first and most obvious pillar is mobile. AT&T’s mmWave 5G wave network is currently established in 21 major U.S. cities. Cheng said the network will be available nationwide early in 2020.

The next pillar is fixed. The company launched AT&T Wireless Broadband late last year, allowing customers to use AT&T’s mobile network as a broadband service for business-critical application.

Customers are viewing wireless as more than just a backup option, Cheng said.

“There’s no data caps or data buckets or things like that, so customers can feel confident they can put their point-of-sale or their whole store operations on this connection,” Cheng said.

The third pillar is the edge, which Cheng said partners can think of as the partner’s location. She said customers will enjoy better performing and more controllable data thanks to AT&T utilizing its software-defined network.

“Historically, if they had cellular coverage, all the data that was collected there from their devices would still run over our entire macro network out to the internet and back,” she said. “But because we have these virtual functions, we can now put that routing function at their premise, so the data from within their location can stay at their location or at their own server.”

Two AT&T channel executives exhorted partners to get started on a mobility practice, lest they lose customers that are asking 5G questions.

“You’ve got to get a 5G strategy. You’ve got to start these conversations with customers early in the program,” said Matt Palmer, director of mobility products and pricing for AT&T Partner Exchange. “If you’re not going to engage with your customers and have these conversations, they may just assume that you’re not going to be in the 5G space.”

Palmer said the mobility conversation has evolved to include IoT strategies. Cheng told Channel Partners that most of the partners she has spoken to this week have already developed a mobility practice but are working to make mobility more software-driven.

“I think wireline went through this transformation where they needed to be able to understand software better and the application-driven use case. And now mobility is going through that as well,” she said. “So people are thinking about, ‘Where should I be deploying my applications for the best experience?’ And it’s not just about mobility connections, but distributed computing and things like that. That’s been the exciting part of the conversations I’ve had so far.”


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