Analyst: AT&T's transition to SDN will make job cuts 'inevitable'

AT&T's (NYSE: T) transformation to becoming a software-defined operator will make it a more flexible software-driven company but that change will result in job cuts, said Chris Antlitz, telecom senior analyst with Technology Business Research. However, those job cuts may be several years away as this transition will take some time. 

In a research note, Antlitz said that despite AT&T's efforts to retrain its workforce to accommodate the new software-defined networking world by offering educational programs, he believes job cuts at the operator are inevitable and could put "tens of thousands of jobs potentially on the line on a net basis."

AT&T has said that its transition to software-defined networking will require a change in the workforce; however, the company believes that it can handle any employee reductions through normal attrition as workers retire or quit. "We haven't made any announcements and this is something that's still several years off," said an AT&T spokewoman when asked by FierceWireless about potential job cuts. "We believe we can handle any reductions in large part through attrition, as employees retire or otherwise leave the business," she added.

AT&T has said it wants to have 75 percent of its network be software-centric by 2020 and aims to complete the first 5 percent of that this year. As part of that shift, AT&T is looking to integrate its internal IT and network teams and adopt a DevOps model to emphasize such collaboration.  

Last June, the Wall Street Journal reported that AT&T employees had already completed nearly 1 million courses in everything from Agile software development and project management to real-time distributed computing. The company is offering all types of educational programs to its workers, including full degrees from accredited colleges such as Georgetown University. 

For more:
- see this TBR research note

Related articles:
In SDN push, AT&T focuses on retraining its employees for software-centric world
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AT&T accelerates SDN vision by extending network on demand capability to 100 cities
AT&T: 75% of network will be software-driven by 2020

FierceWireless Editor Phil Goldstein contributed to this article.