AT&T has named a new chief for its R&D labs whose expertise should enable the carrier both to exploit its own labs' creations and also work with outside entities that might be able to use them.

New AT&T Labs CEO and President Krish Prabhu started in telecom in 1980 at the former AT&T Bell Laboratories, now Alcatel-Lucent's R&D arm. He recently served as interim CEO and president of Tekelec, and previously was CEO of Tellabs and Alcatel USA. He also was with Morgenthaler Venture Partners and has served as director for a handful of startups, experience that could help him attract venture funding for AT&T Lab innovations.

He replaces Keith Cambron, who is retiring after leading AT&T Labs since 2005.

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Prabhu, who will be based in Dallas, says in a statement that the new job is a dream come true.

"AT&T Labs is one of the world's all-time great innovation engines, with more than 1,200 leading scientists and engineers generating more than two patentable ideas a day," he said of the group, formerly known as SBC Laboratories and AT&T Laboratories before AT&T and SBC united.

AT&T Labs' areas of research include computing and communications foundations, networking and software systems, information and intelligent systems, and society and technology. 

A sampling of projects is listed here, and includes everything from speech recognition to 3D video to technologies aimed at helping people with disabilities. AT&T Labs reps take part in industry groups such as the WiMAX Forum, Open Grid Forum and IETF.

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