AT&T is committing $200 million to Coral, a venture capital fund focused on technologies that run on the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP).
Under the terms of the agreement, AT&T will work with Coral's Communications Industry Platform (CIP) team to identify and invest in start-up companies focused on connected services and platforms.
AT&T and Coral will identify additional companies to invest in the fund. The CIP members can pool their resources to create innovations to address vital problems.
"This investment is part of our push to address the needs of global service providers," said Andre Fuetsch, CTO and president of AT&T Labs, in a release. "We look forward to collaborating with Coral and other CIP members to find—and even create—startup companies to build disruptive technologies to solve these challenges."
This investment represents AT&T's latest innovation program, including AT&T Labs and the AT&T Foundry innovation centers. The centers were launched in 2011 to work closely with the startup and open source communities.
ONAP is an operating system for software-defined networks that was created via a merger between AT&T Labs’ Open source ECOMP and the Open Orchestrator Project (OPEN-O).
The ONAP operating system, which is now an open source platform hosted by the Linux Foundation, is being used to manage the service provider’s own cloud network.
AT&T has also established relationships with large carriers such as Bell Canada and Orange, which are testing the ONAP and ECOMP platforms with the aim of creating and managing software-defined networks.
But ONAP is not just confined to AT&T. A number of other large service providers, including Windstream, are using ONAP to virtualize their networks.
Evidence of Windstream’s dedication to ONAP was seen when it introduced SDNow (Software Defined Network Orchestrated Waves) for wholesale content and service provider customers. Windstream plans to expand SDNow to 50 additional locations this summer and is currently set to launch with five major third-party carrier-neutral data centers in Chicago; Dallas; Ashburn, Virginia; Miami and Atlanta.