According to AT&T, upgrading its network over the next few years in order to expand mobile capacity will involve the installation of over 60,000 “white box” routers on their towers. Andre Fuetsch, President, AT&T Labs and Chief Technology Officer, outlined plans during the Open Networking Foundation’s Connect Conference in California.
“Traditionally, we bought these routers from a handful of vendors, and the equipment was highly specialized and came with specialized software,” said Fuetsch.
“The hardware and software functioned as a single unit. Being dependent on a single vendor makes upgrades slower, increases cost, and hampers innovation.”
So, rather than buying a single, closed package, the carrier is designing their own hardware specs for routers and encouraging any manufacturer to build to those specifications. This is known as the “white box” model.
“In addition, we’re writing our own software for these machines, and we’ll release parts of it into open source, so any other service provider can use it,” added Fuetsch.
Although the white box model was announced earlier in the year, AT&T now has their first routers installed carrying live network traffic. Beginning in 2019, AT&T will install routers on several thousand towers with the intent to support and accelerate the mobile 5G era.
“The goal is to make the network not just better for our customers, but for every mobile user,” said Fuetsch. “These platforms and templates are roadmaps for any service provider that needs to be ready for the next-generation mobile demands that are about to become a reality.” Comments? Email us.
December 6, 2018