AT&T Inc. - Tech Innovation of the Year

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Company: AT&T Inc., Dallas, TX
Company Description: AT&T Inc. is a premier communications holding company. With a powerful array of network resources that includes the nation’s largest 4G network, AT&T is a leading provider of wireless, Wi-Fi, high speed Internet, voice and cloud-based services. AT&T is also a leader in mobile Internet and offers advanced TV services.
Nomination Category: Company / Organization Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Tech Innovation of the Year - At Organizations With More Than 1,000 Employees

Nomination Title: AT&T Application Resource Optimizer (ARO)

Tell the story about this nominated achievement since January 1 2012 (up to 525 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

Before the invention of the Application Resource Optimizer, the three components needed to create the ecosystem for an app were siloed – developers focused on the app software, device-makers on the device and network engineers on the network – so the overall understanding of how the interaction between these components could cause inefficiencies in apps was never quite clear. To better understand this, AT&T and the University of Michigan performed a comprehensive investigation of the end-to-end data transmission paths, discovering the source of the problems in the complex interactions between the device and the cellular network, leading to the development of the Application Resource Optimizer (ARO). 

AT&T’s ARO is a free, carrier-agnostic, open source diagnostic tool that enables developers to analyze the performance of their apps. In order to function, an app must interact with the cellular network, causing a device to move from one energy state to another (e.g., from idle to full power), which consumes network resources and battery life. In the case of an inefficient app, unnecessary promotions or demotions from one energy state to the next can quickly drain a device’s power and monopolize the cellular network.

By revealing the interactions that were before hidden in the complex network architecture, ARO enables developers to diagnose previously undetectable inefficiencies. To streamline apps, ARO first uses a data logger, which gathers data on the app being built from the developer’s testing smartphone. Once the data is gathered, the test device is plugged into a computer where ARO analyzes the app, showing how it is performing with the wireless network processer, battery, screen, GPS and more.

The tool examines cross-layer interactions occurring from the application layer down to the network resource state. Through the examination, ARO can identify the events happening at each layer and pinpoint inefficient resource usage in apps. ARO can then make specific recommendations on how developers can optimize their apps to improve performance, speed and battery utilization while also minimizing the network impact. 

Using ARO, developers can finally see the framework outlining the relationship between apps and the cellular network – which greatly differs from the wired network where most developers are familiar – exposing the inefficiencies and practically guiding developers on how to improve apps by optimizing performance, speed, network impact and battery utilization.

The end result benefits developers, carriers and consumers alike, as efficient apps render faster, cellular network resources are not monopolized and batteries are not quickly depleted. Consumers could also enjoy the added benefit of reduced data charges.

Using ARO, researchers have analyzed numerous apps on the market finding a wide variety of inefficiencies, such as repeatedly transferring the same image at every refresh, periodically connecting to the same IP address, and streamlining video and audio using only a portion of the available bandwidth.

Launched in January 2012, ARO is now used by more than 1,000 developers, and users are seeing better results across the board, from a 35 percent reduction in excess data usage to apps that run 10 percent to 60 percent faster. Improving app performance and creating better customer experiences, ARO saved more than 500 terabytes of data in its first year.

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Provide a brief (up to 125 words) biography about the leader of this nominated organization:

John Donovan, Senior Executive Vice President — AT&T Technology and Network Operations, is responsible for the operations of AT&T's technology and global network, including the company's mobile broadband network.

Previously, Donovan was Chief Technology Officer for AT&T where he oversaw the company's global technology direction and innovation road map, including product development, network and engineering operations, AT&T Labs and the security and intellectual property organizations. Under Donovan's leadership, AT&T has turbo-charged its innovation programs and now is recognized as an industry leader in working with application developers and others to make AT&T's network open to collaboration and innovation.