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AT&T Brings vCPE, Wireless WAN to Wholesale Channel

Carol Wilson

AT&T's wholesale unit is rolling out new wireless and virtual CPE offerings to its customers, bringing its channel partners into the next generation of services. In two announcements this week at its own annual event for the channel, AT&T Partner Exchange introduced wireless backup services and its first channel version of AT&T FlexWare.

The latter uses what AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) calls a platform -- essentially a white box -- for hosting virtual network functions on customer premises, initially including routing by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), virtual security functions from Palo Alto Networks Inc. , Juniper and Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP) and optimization from Riverbed Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: RVBD), says Sue Galvanek, vice president of marketing, pricing and product solutions for the AT&T Partner Exchange.

She tells Light Reading in an interview that AT&T FlexWare will bring new flexibility and speed to market for AT&T's channel as well as the cost efficiencies of using one piece of hardware to deliver multiple functions, in place of multiple discrete boxes, each with power and cooling needs.

AT&T Partner Solutions' Sue Galvanek
AT&T Partner Solutions' Sue Galvanek

"With Flexware, all of that goes away because we can deploy any combination of these functions on one general-purpose piece of hardware, and logically connect applications running together via service-chaining and orchestration, all of which is managed remotely via software," Galvanek says.

Coming soon will by an SD-WAN application and other features, she adds. The hardware platform comes in three different sizes, and the management options vary as well. End customers can manage the boxes themselves or they can be part of a managed services offer from either the channel partner or AT&T.

The wireless wide-area networking backup service (WWAN) will be a market entry point into the wireless segment for those of AT&T's channel partners who originated on the wireline business service side, Galvanek notes.

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"While we have some solution providers who are mobility-centric, we have a lot that grew up on wireline side of the business, so we set out a goal for ourselves to create a great entry point for those wireline network solution providers to tap into wireless and the growth opportunity that comes with wireless," she says. "A wireless plan backup solution, by its very nature, builds on the core competency of our solution partners. Now we are working with service providers and asking what do they need to be successful as they transition into the mobility space."

In the LTE era, wireless backup services have become more common and more in-demand as businesses try to protect connections to multiple sites at all times, so enabling channel partners to be able to resell this option is important, Galvanek says. But it was also important to get the pricing right, so that customers didn't find themselves with large overage charges on wireless services, she adds.

AT&T does already wholesale other wireless services to a variety of service providers. Verizon Enterprise Solutions 's wholesale unit launched an array of wireless services 18 months ago, a clear indication of the growing role that wireless options play in the wholesale and channel business (See Verizon Wholesale Expanding Wireless Reach.)

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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