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AT&T is hopping on the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) bandwagon.

The Dallas-based wireless carrier today unveiled Toggle, a mobile-device management solution AT&T executives hope will change the way people work. At least when it comes to their choice of devices they bring to the office.

On Toggle, employees can seamlessly switch between personal and work modes without entering PIN codes. Toggle also provides secure remote access, or SRA, within the confines of a secure work environment.

“We started to think, ‘How do we approach the BYOD phenomenon?'” Mike Troiano, AT&T’s VP for advanced mobility solutions, told VentureBeat in an interview.

While many don’t associate AT&T with the BYOD trend or look upon the telco as a technology disrupter, that’s changing with Toggle. The selling point for the carrier is flexibility for employees who prefer to work on their own machines — and security for the companies employing them.

AT&T is attempting to rapidly move into the application market, and Toggle is one of the prime offerings for the burgeoning ecosystem. Troiano said Toggle is easy to use, helps companies protect their networks, and is an optimum solution for employees storing data in the cloud.

The impetus for Toggle came about two years ago, when AT&T launched an internal crowdsourcing “Innovation Pipeline” that allowed employees to submit ideas of their own volition. AT&T’s 250,000 employees then voted on those ideas, and the best are being implemented.

“At first, we didn’t like it,” Troiano said, referring to the first Toggle prototype released in 2011. “So we switched vendors. We went back to the drawing board.”

“With Toggle, people who want to bring their own device need access to enterprise management. This is broken down into categories through apps. When you download the app, Toggle manages it,” said Troiano, speaking at VentureBeat’s MobileBeat conference today.

For now, Toggle is available on Android and iOS. Troiano demoed Toggle for me Tuesday, and the interface was super-clean and easy to navigate. Once the app is properly configured, an open VPN is established.

Toggle on a Galaxy

Above: Toggle on a Galaxy

Image Credit: Richard Byrne Reilly

Of course, Toggle isn’t free. And while it is aimed at medium-sized businesses and big enterprises, prices vary.

Toggle’s unveiling is yet another way AT&T is changing with the times. Or trying to. That is, looking to move beyond just supplying cell phone coverage. Troiano acknowledged as much.

“True,” he said. “We’re in the software business. Toggle is about bonding between software and the network.”


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