AT&T provided additional color on its Indigo platform during a Wednesday event at its flagship store in San Francisco.
AT&T Network 3.0 Indigo, which AT&T first announced last month, is the telco's big push into creating a platform that allows organizations to share data while also collaborating on analytics. Indigo is an amalgamation of SDN , AT&T's ECOMP orchestration platform, Big Data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, cybersecurity and 5G elements that it's using to create a next-generation data-sharing network. (See AT&T Launches Data Sharing Platform Indigo.)
"We see Indigo as the third generation of modern networking," said AT&T's John Donovan, chief strategy officer and group president of technology and operations, in a prepared statement. "Indigo is our term for a world where it isn't just your connection speeds that are accelerating, but every element of the network becomes more seamless, efficient and capable. It is a living, evolving, upgradeable platform. Think of Indigo like the operating system on your phone. We're taking that model to the network."
AT&T is banking on software-defined networking (SDN) to, among other things, alleviate bandwidth consumption on its mobile network, which it said had increased by about 250,000% since 2007. AT&T has previously stated a goal of having 75% of its network virtualized by 2020 and during today's event it said this year's goal was 55%. AT&T finished last year with 34% of its network functionally converted to SDN. (See AT&T's Gilbert Talks Virtualization .)
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While the first set of 5G standards by 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP)
aren't expected to be finished until sometime next year, AT&T continues to lay its 5G foundation. The telco said on Wednesday that it would launch its first "5G Evolution Markets" in the coming months in Austin and Indianapolis. AT&T is initially targeting peak speeds of 400 Mbit/s, but expects to enable theoretical peak speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s in some areas this year by tapping into technologies such as carrier aggregation and LTE-License Assisted Access (LAA).
AT&T is also building two new 5G test beds that are slated to go on-air this spring in its Austin lab, which was also the location of last fall's 5G business customer trial. The new test beds will be used to support AT&T's existing 5G work as well as trials using a fixed wireless connection, streaming of the DirecTV Now video service, and delivery of "enhanced broadband" speeds for residential and small-to-medium business customers in Austin. During the tests, AT&T said it would work with various vendors to explore 5G signal coverage for the 28GHz, 39GHz, and sub-6GHz frequency bands. (See AT&T Boots Up 5G Trial in Austin With DirecTV Now Customers.)
As expected, AT&T also announced on Wednesday that its Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP) architecture was now officially available in open source. Last year, AT&T announced it would make ECOMP available to other service providers and that it was putting it into open source under the Linux Foundation's organizational umbrella. During a Telco Transformation webinar, Chris Rice, senior vice president at AT&T Labs, said "Open" ECOMP would be available in the first quarter this year and that more service provider announcements were forthcoming. To date, Orange (NYSE: FTE) and BCE Inc. (Bell Canada) (NYSE/Toronto: BCE) have announced their intentions to use ECOMP. (See Bell Canada Joins AT&T's ECOMP Roster and Orange Takes AT&T's ECOMP on Test Drive.)
AT&T has been seeking to distinguish ECOMP from other open source management and orchestration (MANO) efforts, including OPEN-Orchestrator Project (OPEN-O) , which is also part of the Linux Foundation , and the Open Source MANO Community (OSM) .
AT&T developed ECOMP internally as the automation layer for its network software and virtual functions, tying both virtualized and legacy elements together. At its most basic level, ECOMP is a VNF automation platform that is comprised of 8.5 million lines of code and eight major software subsystems.
During the Telco Transformation webinar, Rice said that ECOMP would provide a kernel set of commands that VNFs needed in order to respond in a common way. Having VNF guidelines would help service providers deploy VNFs at a faster rate while eliminating the need for vendors to develop different versions of their software for every service provider.
AT&T said the Linux Foundation would release more information about Open ECOMP in the coming weeks, which could include additional service providers.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation