In the last eight years, data traffic on our wireless network has increased a staggering 100,000 percent, driven primarily by video. We’re asking a network model designed years ago for modest and predictable increases in voice traffic to adapt to a world of streaming videos, high-definition games, and photo-intensive social media.
We’ve been able to keep up with the increase by using more and more sophisticated, complex routers, switches and other gear. But this just isn’t feasible for much longer. It’s too slow, too inefficient and too expensive.
At AT&T, we have found a better way. It’s a model developed in the IT world, where you emulate the functions of those complex pieces of hardware with software, and run that software on standard, off-the-shelf hardware. You can add capacity faster and push out upgrades at the speed of the Internet.
That’s the model for our next-generation network, powered by technologies including software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV). By 2020, we plan to virtualize and control over 75 percent of our network using this new software-defined architecture to meet the growing demands of data and video-hungry users.
For more details about AT&T’s next-generation, software-centric network, read John Donovan’s update from Mobile World Congress.