Optical/IP Networks

Eslambolchi: WiMax Boom Coming

LAS VEGAS -- Interop -- WiMax is in, and edge-based security is dumb, according AT&T Corp.'s (NYSE: T) biggest brain.

Hossein Eslambolchi, AT&T's CTO and president of AT&T Research Labs, says that he sees WiMax technology developing into a dominant next-generation access technology, given its scale, reach, and potential as a global standard.

At the same time, the service provider's research guru says the growth of packet-based networks poses unprecedented security threats, and that security vendors may be taking the wrong approach.

Speaking here at Interop in a keynote address and at a dinner with the press, Eslambolchi covered many of his favorite topics, which in the past have included the growth of sensor technology and the notion that "IP will eat everything." (See Eslambolchi's Top Ten .)

Among the newer themes is access technology -- and WiMax in particular, which Eslambolchi says is gaining momentum.

"WiMax is the next-generation access technology," he said here on Tuesday. "I believe 802.16 is going to be the first global standard in that space. In fact it's already a global standard. GSM is just not a global standard because it is competing with CDMA. "

Eslambolchi sees low cost driving WiMax to reach critical mass: "WiMax is going to end up being one-third of the cost of GSM."

Eslambolchi had plenty of other opinions about emerging telecommunications technology. In particular, he sent out a general alarm about network security.

"I think we have a major threat to national security... A hacker today could bring down the entire Internet with 100 lines of code."

A major flaw, he says, comes in today's security architecture, where most security is implemented at customer sites -- the edge of the telecom network.

"It's almost impossible to scale by putting all the security at the end of the network. It just doesn't work. We are beginning to see that. We need to go somewhere in between... an intelligent network with smart devices."

Eslambolchi says AT&T plans to build all of its security technology itself, baking it into the carrier network. "I won't buy anything from a vendor. We'll build it all into the network ourselves."

That way, he says, the threats can be cut off before they even reach the customer. "I really think we face a fundamental security threat that people aren't recognizing."

— R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, Light Reading

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