by David Goldman
BARCELONA, Spain (CNNMoney)—AT&T would like everything you own to connect to its network, and it wants all those connected possessions to show up on your monthly wireless bill.
It’s not as audacious as it sounds. Smartphones and tablets are hardly the only wirelessly connected gizmos anymore.
Everything from medicine to door locks to dog collars are connected to wireless networks nowadays. Even cars have essentially become smartphones on wheels.
AT&T says this new “Internet of Everything” presents a path for the company to become far more ingrained in its customers lives. And with its new Mobile Share plans that give you one data bucket for all your connected gizmos, AT&T expects to profit. Customers will have to pay AT&T for all the new gadgets they’ll be connecting and all the new services the company will be providing.
“We’re sitting on the greatest growth opportunity in history,” said Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility, in an interview with CNNMoney. “With Mobile Share, we don’t care so much anymore about what you’re doing on the network … but all those things like cars and home security are where the monetization opportunity is.”
At the Mobile World Congress wireless technology conference on Monday, AT&T announced a perfect example of this evolving strategy: a partnership with General Motors to provide 4G service for the car company’s OnStar service.
It was hardly just an announcement about directions and automatic accident reporting. AT&T will be selling a service that can make your Chevy into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. The telecom giant will also soon start selling a U-Verse service that streams TV to the back seat of equipped GM cars.
GM said it believes more than 50 percent of its cars will have wireless capabilities by 2015.
“Everyone is going to be impacted by this sooner rather than later,” said de la Vega.