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AT&T opens first Foundry innovation center

The phone company today announces the opening in Plano, Texas, of the first of three innovation centers aimed at increasing innovation in the mobile market.

AT&T has officially opened its first Foundry facility aimed at increasing innovation in the mobile market. One of three such planned facilities around the globe, this one is in Plano, Texas, the company announced today.

The center will facilitate the company and mobile developers working together to "speed the pace of innovation to consumers and enterprises," the carrier said. The center is opening with expected development in rich media, HTML5, and location-based applications, among other areas.

Ultimately, AT&T's goal with its innovation centers is to get projects that might improve the use of mobile technology to the market three times faster than they would normally get there, AT&T's chief technology officer John Donovan said in a statement.

Working at AT&T's innovation center could be a boon for developers. A description of the program on AT&T's Web site says developers need only to "bring the idea." AT&T, on the other hand, will deliver resources to help developers bring that idea to the market. The wireless carrier said that developers will have "access to AT&T network capabilities and test beds, in addition to technology experts and project coaches." The center is also "an LTE test environment," the company said.

Verizon also has an LTE Innovation Center. The company's center, which is located in Waltham, Massachusetts, is open for designers and developers that want to use Verizon's high-speed network to bring connectivity to devices that otherwise wouldn't have it. The Web site for Verizon's center specifically cites the use of 4G connectivity in vehicles, medical devices, and home appliances.

Like Verizon's program, AT&T requires developers to apply to use the centers. The company holds "speed date" reviews of proposals to determine if an idea would be a good fit for what it's trying to accomplish with its service. AT&T said it has already held several dates with developers and plans to "hold 400 of the fast-pitch sessions in locations across the globe this year."

AT&T's desire to be picky makes sense--the Foundry innovation centers aren't cheap. The carrier said today that total investment in the centers is $70 million.

Sometime this spring, AT&T expects it will open its next innovation center in Ra'anana, Israel. A Palo Alto, Calif., center is scheduled to open in the fall.