These days phone companies like AT&T are more like network services providers than old time POTS (plain old telephone service) monopolies. Most, if not all of their land-line voice traffic runs over IP networks and the wireless unit is moving to full IP networking for wireless voice when they move to LTE in a few years.

That said, the whole "public utility" thing is becoming more a liability than the license to print money that it once was. In response to this transition, AT&T has been beefing up their networking and IT hosting services. Now they've taken the plunge and announced an RFID managed service designed for hospitals. From this RFID Journal story we learn that AT&T will design, install and manage your WiFi network. For an extra fee, they'll throw in some AeroScout RFID tags and provide Asset Visibility. It is not clear whether they're using the Cisco or AeroScout positioning engine.

I can certainly see hospitals using AT&T's wide area network services, and maybe even NOC (network operations center) services. As a relative newbie to hospital wireless network, I'm skeptical. Ditto for any near term success selling RFID. If you've had any experience with AT&T networking services, let me know.

[Hat tip: StatCom newsletter]