AT&T to begin CORD field trials in wireline network in 2016, expand virtual services

AT&T (NYSE: T) says that it is moving ahead with efforts to virtualize last mile functions related to its FTTH buildouts centered around the Central Office Re-architected as Data Center (CORD) concept.

In June, the service provider conducted a proof-of-concept (POC) transformation CORD.

CORD incorporates SDN, NFV and cloud with commodity infrastructure and open building blocks. The CORD solution POC spans the traditional central office access, including Gigabit-capable Passive Optical Networks (GPON) and, as well as home/enterprise customer premises equipment (CPE). Part of this effort will include a virtual OLT (vOLT), which is part of the disaggregation phase of AT&T's implementation of NFV.

John Donovan, senior executive vice president for AT&T Technology and Operations (ATO), told FierceTelecom in an e-mail that it will proceed with a set of lab and field trials in 2016.

"The demo this June was very successful and the work continues to progress through the Fall toward lab trials," Donovan said. "I expect these to go well and to try the technology in the field next year."

Donovan said that CORD will enable a host of new cloud-based capabilities and that it will continue to work with ON.Labs.

"CORD brings cloud technologies to consumer services and that's exciting for us," Donovan said. "AT&T is pleased with the progress that's been made in our collaboration with ON.Labs and their partners in progressing CORD."

Virtualizing the last mile network is only one part of AT&T's virtualization efforts. The service provider is also expanding the availability of its Network on Demand capability for its Ethernet service and introducing its new Managed Internet service.

Roman Pacewicz, SVP of marketing and global strategy for AT&T, said the Switched Ethernet Service with the Network on Demand capability is available in 170 cities, and it plans to "expand the service out of our territory in the near future."

Besides Ethernet, the service provider also now offers Managed Internet Service with the Network on Demand capability, a virtualized business Internet service. This service virtualizes the edge router and customer router in its cloud, enabling new site implementations in days and reconfiguration in minutes.

Pacewicz said that the Managed Internet Service with the Network on Demand capability "will be available in select U.S. cities later this fall and we plan to expand the service by the end of the year."

Through its partnership with key vendors Cisco, Juniper, and Brocade, AT&T has also introduced Network Function on Demand.  By allowing customers to deploy virtualized network functions either at their location on an X86 networking appliance or in AT&T's Integrated Cloud (AIC), business customers don't have to purchase multiple boxes to manage.

Pacewicz said Network Function on Demand can "reduce the total cost of ownership for on-site networking." 

Related articles:
AT&T Donovan: We'll virtualize more FTTP hardware functions in 2016
AT&T, ONOS Project unveil SDN/NFV solution for central office, home and business locations
AT&T shifts 130K employees to focus on software networking transition
AT&T's Fuetsch: Apple's iOS software updates 'biggest event we worry about' on network