AT&T brings on-demand Ethernet service to five new markets

AT&T (NYSE: T) is expanding the availability of its Switched Ethernet Service via Network on Demand to five new markets, with a particular focus on serving businesses in its fiber-ready buildings.

Offering eligible customers faster installation times, self-service management, bandwidth and speed control, Network on Demand is now available in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Businesses can add or change service on their own in near real time using a self-service web portal.

Josh Goodell, VP of network on demand, mobile and business solutions at AT&T, told FierceTelecom in an e-mail that to enable the service in these new areas it made a number of software upgrades to existing Ethernet and optical gear in each of the new markets to enable customers to get the Network on Demand features.

"We made necessary software upgrades to existing network gear in each new market, which permits Network on Demand functionality," Goodell said. "Also, we work to ensure all of our local technician garages are stocked in the event customers request a full install."

While the fiber-based buildings are the direct priority of this latest expansion of its Network on Demand capability, the telco will bring fiber to customers that request it that reside in copper-only locations.

"If customers do not have fiber, we have a process to provide fiber to the location," Goodell said. "This does extend the timeframe for delivering the service in these situations, however it does allow customers to take advantage of Network on Demand when fiber is not currently available."  

Initially, the on-demand capability was only available in Austin as part of a trial it launched in that market last September. AT&T said it plans to deploy new Network on Demand-enabled services and additional markets later in 2015.

While the Network on Demand feature is new, a new hybrid capability enables the Network on Demand equipment to work with existing AT&T Switched Ethernet Services.

The on-demand capability, which leverages a software-defined networking (SDN) construct, is part of the "AT&T Network on Demand" capability that's being deployed as part of its User Defined Network Cloud (UDNC) strategy it launched in February 2014.

Although Ethernet is the initial focus of the on-demand feature, the service provider will make available the new capability to allow business customers to provision other services such as Internet VPN and VoIP later this year.

The on-demand Ethernet element complements AT&T's ongoing fiber-to-the-building (FTTB) initiative to deliver services to more business locations. Extending fiber into more buildings has been a major tenet of its Project VIP initiative. The service provider has set a goal of reaching 1 million business customer locations with fiber. 

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This story was updated on March 4 with additional information from AT&T.