Global operator Orange plans to test AT&T’s* platform for creating and managing a software-defined network. AT&T built this platform, called ECOMP, with a focus on making it accessible to other operators and cloud developers. AT&T has committed to releasing ECOMP as open source software in conjunction with the Linux Foundation.
“ECOMP is a stake in the ground. It’s a declaration that networks of the future will be software-centric, that they’ll be faster, more responsive to customer needs, and more efficient,” said Chris Rice, Senior Vice President – Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design, AT&T. “Orange’s decision, as one of the leading international carriers in the world, is a great endorsement of that approach.”
“The analysis we conducted of ECOMP currently shows it to be highly agile and comprehensive, a testament to the commitment that AT&T has shown to address
the key challenges that global service providers all face,” said Alain Maloberti, Senior Vice President Orange Labs Network at Orange. “We jointly believe that a platform like ECOMP needs a strong and dynamic open source community to drive industry adoption, and we will work with AT&T to create a community to develop a reference software platform for automated network orchestration and management. We plan to start experiments with ECOMP firstly in a lab environment, to be followed by a field trial as part of our On-Demand Networks program.”
This supplements AT&T and Orange’s recent announcement that they will collaborate on open source and standardization initiatives to accelerate the standardization of software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) technologies.
Orange is the first telecom company to join AT&T’s ECOMP effort. This helps to validate the software-centric vision AT&T adopted several years ago as a response to skyrocketing demand for network capacity. Data traffic on AT&T’s wireless network grew more than 150,000% between 2007 and 2015. Businesses and consumers expect more out of their networks than ever before. And those demands are only going to increase over the next several years, as new applications like 4K video, virtual reality and augmented reality, and the Internet of Things take off.
When AT&T first started talking about a “software-centric network” back in 2014, many people were confused by the concept. But while the technology is complex, the concept is familiar. For years, many of us carried individual gadgets for individual needs: a camera, a portable music player, a video camera, a video game machine. Many of us have replaced those specialized devices with software apps running on a smartphone. It’s faster, more efficient, more upgradeable, and less expensive.
AT&T is doing the same thing with all the specialized hardware appliances in our central offices. We’re virtualizing them. Those routers and switches and firewalls are becoming virtual network functions running on standard servers. And we’re giving our customers online, software-based control of their own network services. That’s a software-centric network.
ECOMP, which stands for Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy, is the software platform AT&T created to power its new network. ECOMP lets service providers quickly add features and drive down operations costs. It gives service providers and businesses anywhere more control of their network services, and enables developers to create new services. Ultimately, consumers benefit because the network better adapts, scales and predicts how to make their connected experiences seamless. That means that all the cool network-enabled technologies coming in the next few years – from virtual reality to self-driving cars to 4K video – will run more smoothly.
Building ECOMP took years. We at AT&T believe that we have a significant head start in preparing for this software-centric world of 2020. But we know innovation happens faster in an open, collaborative world. This is why we are releasing ECOMP into open source; so, others can use and build on what we’ve created so far.
We hope for and expect more companies to test and adopt ECOMP. It’s one of the most powerful and sophisticated software platforms we’ve ever built at AT&T. It will be a vital tool to meet the demands of the data-hungry applications that are coming online. And it will be crucial to fulfilling the potential of the next-generation 5G wireless networks that we’re researching and testing now as we prepare for that world of 2020.There will be a lot more news to share in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned.*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.
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