AT&T and Arrow Electronics partnered to help incubate Internet of Things startups, the two companies announced Thursday. The collaboration will be focused on Plano, Texas-based AT&T IoT Foundry which already serves the same goal, being designed as both an IoT incubator and a facility meant to foster technical collaboration in the field. Arrow's "sensor-to-sunset" product and service portfolio will be used to ennoble AT&T's operations, allowing the company's startups to accelerate the process of turning their ideas into a commercial reality. In practice, Arrow's offerings will primarily benefit startups short on production resources and are hence targeted at teams with established ideas and business plans seeking efficient manufacturing techniques.
No financial details of the deal have been disclosed and it's presently unclear whether Arrow is perhaps benefitting from the collaboration in another, less direct way, though having access to innovative startups was likely an advantage the company didn't want to pass up on. Ultimately, the goal of both firms is to provide startups with comprehensive commercialization solutions that are quick to get their products off the ground and are also perfectly scalable, thus having the potential to turn them into long-term clients. With the industry now being of the verge of the 5G revolution, AT&T's interest in the IoT segment isn't unexpected; the next generation of wireless communications will allow for entirely new product categories and make existing IoT ones much more viable, providing massive opportunities for business-to-business products and services. IoT offerings have been on the market for years now but still cannot allow for full-fledged smart cities and similarly advanced applications, all of which are expected to become feasible once wireless carriers begin delivering truly mobile 5G connectivity.
In the near term, AT&T is prioritizing security in regards to its IoT efforts, as per the company's recent statements on the matter. The mobile service provider is planning to start offering a truly wireless 5G network in late 2018 and accelerate its deployment efforts next year with the goal of delivering a nationwide solution by 2020. IoT will play an important role in its efforts to generate a return on its massive infrastructural investments, making more collaborations similar to the newly announced one with Arrow extremely likely.