AT&T has not only weathered the networking storm of the coronavirus pandemic, it has also stayed on track for some of this year's biggest goals.
AT&T's Scott Mair, president of technology and operations, said in a Tuesday blog that 2020 has demonstrated the resilience of the network that the telco first drew up over a half decade ago. AT&T first outlined its virtualization project back in 2013 as part of its Domain 2.0 initiative. The following year it announced its goal of having 75% of its core network functions virtualized by 2020.
Despite the extra work involved with enabling millions of employees to work from home—as well students' remote learning from home—during the coronavirus pandemic, Mair said AT&T was still on track to hit its 75% software-defined networking (SDN) and automation goal this year.
After firing up a 400G connection between Dallas and Atlanta late last year, Mair said AT&T was also making strides on its 400G deployment, which was also on top of the telco's to-do list this year. And AT&T is still planning to deliver its 5G service across the nation this summer.
"Addressing the COVID-19 surge while staying on track with our long-term goals is only possible because we’ve spent years putting in place people and plans that can adapt, improvise, and overcome any obstacle," Mair said in his blog.
Mair also announced on Tuesday that AT&T has joined a global initiative called the Open COVID Pledge to make its patents available free of charge to help fight the coronavirus. Mair said AT&T generates roughly five patents on every business day.
"With the Open COVID Pledge, we’re also committing our patents to the world, doing what we can to accelerate work on medical equipment, network products, software and other technology that might be useful," Mair said.
Mair also recapped AT&T's network efforts during the COVID-19 crisis, which have been largely successful due to its SDN network. During an average business day in the pre-COVID-19 fourth quarter, AT&T's network carried 335 petabytes of data. With shelter in place policies across the nation, millions of employees started to work from home, which sent AT&T's core network traffic levels up by 20% "almost overnight," according to Mair.
Wireless voice usage and video streaming usage have also soared during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the need for businesses to enable more robust VPNs for their home bound employees.
"In the face of that historic demand, though, our network teams both kept the current systems running smoothly and have continued to deliver on our long-term innovation strategy," Mair said.
Mair also called out AT&T's FirstNet network, which was built for first responders, and AT&T Fiber hitting its availability goal of more than 14 million locations.