ATandT, Cisco Launching Cius 4G Tablet this Fall

AT&T introduced the Cisco Cius 4G tablet for enterprise customers on the same day the carrier said it will invest $1 billion in developing cloud-computing technologies.

AT&T is rolling out Cisco Systems' Cius Tablet, an additional mobile component to its growing business-geared mobile ecosystem.

Scheduled to arrive in the fall and to run on AT&T's 4G HSPA+ (Evolved High-Speed Packet Access) network, the Cius features a 7-inch, high-resolution multi-touch display and runs the Google Android operating system.

"The Cisco Cius further extends our leading portfolio of enterprise mobility devices, and this is the latest example of our commitment to helping organizations of all sizes increase business velocity," Shawn Conroy, vice president of voice, collaboration and unified communications services in AT&T's Business Solutions Division, said in a May 11 statement.

Weighing 1.15 pounds and measuring 8.85 by 5.5 by 0.59 inches, the Cius can fit in a suit pocket or briefcase on the go, and in the office, can be docked in an optional high-definition media station. The tablet supports Adobe Flash technology, has front- and rear-facing cameras, GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G/4G connectivity, microUSB and standard USB ports and 32GB of internal flash memory.

Depending on a business' preferences, access to applications on the Cius can be open or controlled, and other business-friendly features include interoperable HD video communications, conferencing capabilities and desktop virtualization.

"Users can send emails, messages and browse the Web, as well as create, edit, share and store content locally on the device or centrally in the cloud," according to AT&T. "Voice and video calls are supported in wired environments."

The Cius will be able to run Android applications, as well as those created by AT&T and Cisco, in collaboration with the AT&T Foundry. With locations in California, Texas and Israel, AT&T describes the Foundry as an open environment that "enables a range of innovation that includes applications, devices, cloud services, enabling technologies and operation support."

In an increasingly crowded tablet market, the Cius will compete most directly with Research In Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook, the only tablet to so far make overtures toward enterprise customers. (To the Cius' advantage, the PlayBook-while called convenient, handsome and "coherently designed"-has been criticized for its necessary close relationship with a BlackBerry smartphone.)

Along with the Cius, AT&T announced May 11 that it plans to spend nearly $1 billion in 2011 on next-generation services for businesses. Its planned investment areas include mobility solutions and connected devices, cloud-based services, global enterprise networking, small business services and a particular focus on the health care industry. The new services, it explained in a press statement, are made possible by the "unprecedented proliferation of high-speed wired and wireless networks, smart mobile-computing devices and network-based applications."

AT&T is also trying to buy competitor T-Mobile, whose spectrum holdings would enable AT&T to extend 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) coverage to 97 percent of the U.S. population. This would, of course, also support its cloud-based efforts and devices such as the Cius and-AT&T has argued-support the Obama Administration's efforts to connect more Americans to the Internet, in an effort to promote new jobs and economic growth.

"We are mobilizing the day-to-day activities of our business and government customers, helping them act quicker for maximum agility and profitability," AT&T's Conroy said in the statement.

AT&T has yet to announce pricing details for the Cius tablet.