AT&T Business Speeds to the Future With 5G

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

AT&T Batman
The Batman vs. Scarecrow VR experience helped AT&T illustrate the potential of 5G.

For AT&T Business, 5G is the next big thing, and it is using storytelling to bring the technology alive for B2B customers.

“5G will fundamentally change society, much like the smartphone did,” says Mo Katibeh, president and CMO of AT&T Business, noting that in 2006, prior to the launch of the iPhone, smart phone penetration in the United States was only three percent. Last year, it was 88 percent.

Of course, many people don’t really understand what 5G is or why it is so important, he acknowledges. To put it into context, he notes that 1G led to the introduction of voice calling on mobile devices, 2G led into texting, 3G was the advent of Internet browsing and texting, and 4G ushered in the era of the smartphone.

5G is the next milestone. An obvious benefit is greater speed, as well as massive device connectivity and greater access to data-driven insights. “With 5G, you get connected to everything,” says Katibeh, speaking at ANA’s Masters of B2B in Chicago yesterday. “In a few years, everything will talk to everything.”

For a gaming enthusiast, a millisecond is the difference between living and dying on a virtual battlefield. A more real-world implication is doctors having the ability to perform robotic surgery on a patient hundreds of miles away.

To promote 5G both to businesses and consumers, AT&T is using storytelling to make it personal. “One of the things that I have found is B2B is not as relevant as B2P—business to people,” he says. “Storytelling can bring concepts to life, so the businesses you are working understand how you can help them accomplish their mission.”

The medium becomes secondary if you are telling your story effectively, he says. The acquisition of Warner Media last year brought DC Comics into the AT&T family, giving the company access to classic superhero characters. In a partnership between AT&T, DC, Ericsson, Intel and the USC School of Cinematic Arts, an interactive VR experience was recently created, allowing users to be in a battle between Batman and the Scarecrow—and see the how the power of 5G could power such interactions. The experience was featured at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

“The future of gaming is immersive,” he says. “We wanted to bring people into this world.”

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Telling such stories is critical to make 5G resonate with business customers in markets like retail, healthcare, manufacturing, finance and the public sector, says Katibeh. The first television spot promoting AT&T 5G debuted during the Masters, a good venue given the high number of corporate decision makers who watch golf tournaments.

The focus overall has been in highlighting the potential of 5G, without straying too far into the aspirational aspects. “We didn’t want to overpromise, we stuck to the facts.”

Luckily, those facts are pretty inspiring. Katibeh shared several examples, including Samsung’s Austin, TX, semi-conductor factory, which uses 5G throughout the facility for VR-based employee training, near real-time product inspections on the production line, and proximity sensing to improve personnel safety.

Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center also has several use cases, including VR training and real-time imaging to help doctors care for patients who are in their homes as well as the hospital.

“5G can improve patient experience,” says Shafiq Rab, SVP and CIO of Rush.



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