AT&T collaborates with GE to switch to LED signage

July 20, 2009
A re-branding exercise by AT&T has involved the installation of 7000 channel letter signs containing around 2.6 million LEDs.

Over the last few years, AT&T re-branding efforts across the US included a redesign of its logo that necessitated the replacement of 7,000 channel letter signs on more than 6,500 AT&T office buildings and retail locations.

The company switched to the Tetra LED lighting system from Lumination, GE Consumer & Industrial's LED business. In total, approximately 2.6 million GE LEDs replaced both the high-voltage, high-maintenance neon that is often used in small-building signs and less-efficient linear fluorescent lighting, which performs less favorably than LEDs in cold climates. AT&T expects to save more than 5.8 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity a year and eliminate 3,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. This, says AT&T, is the equivalent of planting more than 950 acres of trees.

The new lighting system will also provide AT&T with financial savings, compared with neon. "We knew a switch to more efficient signage would be a sustainable business decision, both environmentally and financially," said Shawn McKenzie, SVP of Corporate Real Estate, AT&T Services Inc. "We researched our options, analyzed the data and ultimately chose the GE system for its reliability, energy efficiency, environmental benefits and long-term value proposition. It also helped that GE is built to handle such large-scale efforts."

According to Eric Stevenson, GE's Global Product Manager – Signage, "companies like AT&T that pay to operate thousands of signs every day are quick to recognize the value of a high-quality LED signage system."

The energy-savings differential is significant, but it's often the maintenance savings that seals the deal, continued Stevenson. “Our GE Tetra(R) LED system with a 50,000-hour rated life eclipses the life of incumbent fluorescent systems by more than three years. Our LED system virtually eliminates the problem of burned out signs, which is common for both neon and fluorescent systems."

According to Stevenson, high-rise backlit signage is challenging to maintain because the signs are frequently mounted many stories above ground level, requiring large cranes or helicopters to conduct maintenance or repairs. "It's work that can cost thousands of dollars a day for rental equipment and services," he noted.