Broadcom, DriveNets, Cisco, Nokia and others are among the vendors supporting AT&T's move toward a new switching and routing platform that's now carrying a majority of the operator's production traffic.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies

January 27, 2023

3 Min Read
AT&T boasts of core 'white box' success in 5G, fiber push

AT&T said it has now migrated more than 52% of all of its production traffic onto next-generation "white box" core routers running on products from the likes of Broadcom and DriveNets.

The company said its move to such "open" systems has helped its aggressive 5G and fiber expansions.

"We announced the next-gen open disaggregated core routing and the next-gen open disaggregated IP edge routing platforms in 2020. And in 2022, our open, disaggregated program took a significant leap forward!" wrote Mike Satterlee, AT&T's VP of network core infrastructure services. "In fact, it is meeting and, in many cases, exceeding our expectations."

In a lengthy post to the company's website, Satterlee said AT&T's work in the space stretches back to its Domain 2.0 announcement in 2013, which involved pivoting much of its network hardware into software. More recently, AT&T has been working to shift its core routing systems from proprietary equipment supplied by a single vendor to decoupled, "open" components that can be integrated together into one switching and routing platform. "We call these open platforms 'white box' systems," Satterlee wrote.

A major element of AT&T's recent efforts stems from its 2020 agreement with startup DriveNets. "DriveNets really came in as a disruptor in the space," Satterlee told SDxCentral this week. "They don't sell hardware platforms. They are a software-based company and they were really the first to do this right."

"Being entrusted with AT&T's core network traffic – and delivering on our performance, reliability and service availability commitments to AT&T – demonstrates our solution's strengths in meeting the needs of the most demanding service providers in the world," Ido Susan, DriveNets CEO, said in a release.

AT&T's latest announcement comes just a few months after Israel-based DriveNets hauled in an additional $262 million to fund its growth.

But DriveNets isn't the only vendor supporting AT&T's shift to open, disaggregated platforms in its core network. The company said it is also using:

  • new edge routers from Broadcom, Cisco and UfiSpace;

  • cell-site gateway routers from UfiSpace running Broadcom Qumran-AX chips and Ciena's Vyatta NOS software;

  • Ethernet Mux based on Broadcom's Qumran-MX chips, EdgeCore hardware and Ciena's SAOS Network Operating System software;

  • customer premise equipment (CPE) using products from Intel, Broadcom, Marvell and Silicom coupled with Vyatta NOS software from Ciena;

  • and Open ROADM-compliant components developed by Ciena, Cisco, Fujitsu, Infinera and Nokia.

"We are continuing to develop the open and disaggregated ecosystem to enable more advanced management capabilities and additional use cases," Satterlee explained. "The task now is to unlock its full potential and make its capabilities more consumable and flexible for our customers."

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

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