AT&T Communications and Microsoft Corp will team up with an extensive multi-year alliance where the companies will apply technologies, including cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G to improve how people live and work today as well as in the future, they announced in a release. Microsoft will serve as the preferred cloud provider for non-network applications as part of AT&T’s broader “public cloud first” strategy, and will support the wireless carrier as it consolidates its data center infrastructure and operations.
AT&T will migrate most non-network workloads to the public cloud by 2024 in order to become a “public cloud first” company. This initiative will let AT&T focus on its core network capabilities, accelerate innovation for its customers and empower its workforce while minimizing costs. In the agreement, AT&T will provide a large part of its workforce with cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools that Microsoft 365 will make available. The carrier also plans to migrate non-network infrastructure applications to the Microsoft Azure cloud program.
The Microsoft-AT&T alliance is designed to help provide omnipresent computing through edge technologies and 5G. AT&T was the first carrier to introduce 5G evolution (5Ge), a pre 5G technology, in the U.S. and plans to have a nationwide 5G network by the first half of 2020. Meanwhile, Microsoft will use the innovation AT&T is offering on its 5G network to design test and build edge-computing capabilities. The combination of edge computing and a lower-latency 5G connection via AT&T’s geographically dispersed network infrastructure will let devices process data closer to where decisions are made.
These two companies working together is not a new concept. Microsoft and AT&T recently also tested an edge computing based-tracing and detection system for drones. As the number of connected devices and demand for streaming content grows, businesses and customers alike require consistently enhanced network capabilities. With the global scale of Microsoft’s Azure cloud and AT&T’s domestic 5G capabilities, the companies’ mutual customers will likely be exposed to a number of unique solutions. The companies plan to bring integrated industry solutions in the areas of voice, collaboration and conferencing, intelligent edge and networking, Internet of Things (IoT), public safety and cyber security to market.
Currently, AT&T and Microsoft have joint enterprise solutions for networking, IoT and blockchain in the market and plan to announce more services later this year. The companies envision situations with 5G enabling near-instant communications for a first responder who’s using AI-powered live voice translation to quickly communicate with someone who needs help, but speaks a different language.
“AT&T and Microsoft are among the most committed companies to fostering technology that serves people,” AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan said in a statement. “By working together on common efforts around 5G, the cloud, and AI, we will accelerate the speed of innovation and impact for our customers and our communities.”
“AT&T is at the forefront of defining how advances in technology, including 5G and edge computing, will transform every aspect of work and life,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadell said. “The world’s leading companies run on our cloud, and we are delighted that AT&T chose Microsoft to accelerate its innovation. Together, we will apply the power of Azure and Microsoft 365 to transform the way AT&T’s workforce collaborates and to shape the future of media and communications for people everywhere.”
Microsoft and AT&T also plan to work together on tech-enabled approaches and solutions aimed at social good. Both companies have focused on addressing sustainability, accessibility, and community challenges such as homelessness and see an opportunity to support each other’s work to address urgent social needs, including Microsoft’s affordable housing initiative and the AT&T Believes campaign.