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AT&T Plans European Expansion With Technology Licensing

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AT&T Plans Europe Expansion Through Wireless Licensing Push
AT&T is becoming more of a technology company as it develops new lines of business such as wireless home-monitoring systems and mobile-wallet applications to supplement slowing growth in wireless service revenue. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) -- AT&T Inc., the largest U.S. phone company, will expand into the European market through mobile licenses for its home-watchdog products as the company looks for new growth outside of its wireless service.

More than 30 companies worldwide have asked to license AT&T’s Digital Life product, which lets customers watch over their homes for leaks and break-ins from a mobile device, said Glenn Lurie, president of emerging devices, in an interview from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

“We hoped two or three would be interested and actually a lot more than that were; it was unbelievable,” Lurie said yesterday. “We’re back this year signing deals, talking to carriers. We’re going to announce a full international business for Digital Life.”

AT&T is becoming more of a technology company as it develops new lines of business such as wireless home-monitoring systems and mobile-wallet applications to supplement slowing growth in wireless service revenue. Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson said that the company was considering international partnerships last month as the company reported its lowest annual growth rate since 2010.

Lurie has lead the connected-devices division, which oversees everything from mobile payments to connected power grids and tablets, since 2008. Lurie, who negotiated AT&T’s exclusive deal to carry the first iPhone with Apple Inc., said he realized quickly that his unit’s customers wanted a simplified solution that would work globally.

GM OnStar

The Dallas-based company released a global platform in the last year that lets devices work with roaming partners worldwide. The tools can be loaded with a customer’s information and updated remotely. Yesterday General Motors Co. announced such a plan for its vehicles with AT&T-powered OnStar.

“We’re allowing them to have one carrier in the whole world to go to, and let us manage the rest of the world for them,” Lurie said. “That’s allowed us to go out and bid on global business in Europe and Asia and obviously the U.S.”

AT&T rose 0.9 percent to close at $35.49 in New York. The stock has gained 17 percent in the past 12 months.

The company announced today a partnership with OnAsset Intelligence Inc. to help airlines and their customers wirelessly track high-value cargo in transit, schedule shipments and manage routes.

While AT&T looks at expansion opportunities internationally, the company won’t comment on press reports that it might make an acquisition in Europe, wireless head Ralph de la Vega said in an interview.

“We still have room to grow in terms of getting our customers to upgrade to smartphones” in the U.S., he said. “Digital Life, connected cars all have huge amounts of revenue growth opportunities.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Amy Thomson in Barcelona at athomson6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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