AT&T accidentally hints it hasn’t done much NFV recently

A talk from AT&T at Broadband World Forum inadvertently revealed how long it is taking for NFV to realise its overly-hyped potential.

“I’ve used this slide for every talk I’ve done over the last three years,” said AT&T’s Tom Anschutz when beginning his presentation intended to explain the progress the telco is making with SDN and NFV. Probably not quite striking the right note to suggest they’re steaming forward over at AT&T.

He moved on to reveal some of the progress the telco has made since it began formulating plans all the way back in the good ole days of 2013.

“Three years ago a bunch of engineers got together at AT&T and decided what we need to be doing to keep the business relevant in 2020,” he said.

Anschutz then explained how the future telco network will require all kinds of crazy scaling capabilities, because of things like IoT at one end, then mega data transmission at the other – presumably for super-dense content like 4/8K TV.

“We knew we had to open our network to allow third parties to go over the top; scale down for IoT to be able to transmit data once a week,” he said. “We also had to scale up for data centres to transmit data over 400G links. Finally, we needed to increase value by getting new services to market quicker and rapidly improve our OPEX while expanding our business models.”

Can you see where we’re going with this? Inevitably the answer is NFV, by and large, along with some other cloud-based cleverness.

“The answers to this are bundled up in SDN and NFV,” said Anschutz. “These two things, alongside a cloud-based DevOps model, we believe is the answer to our architectural problems.

“We’ve got some functions virtualized, like routers, as well as a virtualized OLT which we use to instantiate residential broadband. There are third party applications as well as content distribution networking, so we’re getting there with a few functions.”

To its credit though, AT&T is getting there, despite it sounding though the brakes are on a little bit.

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