AT&T to Sponsor Williams Formula 1

Illustrating tech companies' growing role in the F1 series, the multiyear deal will begin in 2007 and includes a secure VPN for race communications

Formula One racing team WilliamsF1, has announced a sponsorship and technology deal with AT&T.

The deal illustrates the increasing sponsorship role of tech companies in F1 - McLaren-Mercedes will have Vodafone as their title sponsor next season.

The team will be known as AT&T WilliamsF1 Team when the multi-year deal begins at the start of the 2007 season.

As part of the deal, AT&T will provide the team with a secure virtual private network at grand prix to support data and voice communications.

The company will also manage vital data communication back to the team's Oxfordshire base. During a race, the team will often transmit up to 15GB of real-time data for instant analysis at the factory.

The telco will also provide mobility services, hosting and security services for the team.

John Finnegan, senior vice president of AT&T global sales said the deal represents a "new and deeper level of commitment" to F1 from the telco. The company has had associations with the Jaguar and McLaren teams in the recent past.

Team principal Frank Williams told the deal represents a fresh start for the team - which had a disappointing 2006 season.

Other tech companies that sponsor F1 teams include QinetiQ and Mobilecast with Williams; 02 and Intel with BMW-Sauber; and Vodafone with Ferrari and next year McLaren. Champions, Renault are backed by Lombardi Software and Spanish telco, Telefonica.

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