Adtran CEO: SDN's impact on the industry is revolutionary

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Adtran's top executive said that he predicts software-defined networking (SDN) will have a huge impact on the telecom industry because, once deployed, it will allow operators to move more quickly and save money. And he believes Adtran is well positioned to take advantage of this trend once operators stop trialing SDN and begin converting their networks.

"There are two big phenomenon that are impacting how we think right now.  The first is the move toward software-defined everything … and the second is that broadband has become important again," said Adtran CEO Tom Stanton during an informal Q&A session with analysts and reporters held here at Adtran headquarters.

Stanton said that funding from the Connect America Fund has given new life to rural broadband deployments, which has benefited the company. In the second quarter, Adtran reported that revenues in its Broadband Access group increased to $101 million, up from $100.4 million in the first quarter.  Likewise the company's Optical unit saw second quarter revenues of $16.4 million, up from $13 million in the first quarter.  Stanton attributed these increases to CAF projects.

Stanton noted that the company is hearing operators talk about SDN and virtualizing their networks but most are looking at this change to their networks in a very realistic way. Although ultimately SDN and NFV will allow operators to reduce their deployment times and launch new services quickly, the switch from existing hardware solutions to software will not be easy.

Nevertheless, Stanton believes Adtran is well positioned for the change the company has been migrating from being a hardware shop to a software company over the past few years. "I'm in a position to embrace virtualization better than my biggest competitors.  We have embraced that in a way … we are pushing it.  I've got less to lose and more to gain," he said.

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