AT&T used GigaOM’s Mobilize conference today to highlight a couple of new initiatives that underscore how aggressively the company is pursuing the connected world that was the overriding theme of this year’s event. Here’s a quick rundown:
- The carrier announced two new data plans for casual users who occasionally need more than just a Wi-Fi connection. It unveiled a $5 day pass that provides 250MB of data and can be purchased and enabled directly from cellular-enabled tablets, marketing the offering as an affordable alternative to hotel Wi-Fi systems, as well as $25 offering for 1GB of data that can be used any time over a three-month period. As I wrote more than two years ago, prepaid data services should provide something of a lift for sales of cellular-enabled tablets, which have languished compared to Wi-Fi-only models because of the high cost of data plans. And it should help AT&T generate some modest revenues from a largely untapped market.
- It outlined a deal to provide machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions for Tesla Motors vehicles. The service, which reportedly will use the carrier’s HSPA+ network rather than LTE, will include two-way communications, remote engine diagnostics and web-based content such as search, traffic, weather and radio.
AT&T was perhaps the most aggressive carrier to pursue the internet of things even before the IoT became an industry catchphrase, and these announcements illustrate how the company continues to build out its M2M business in a big way. That will be necessary for AT&T to maintain its dominance in an era of dramatically slowing subscriber growth in the U.S.