We’re well on our way to becoming the first to begin introducing standards based mobile 5G service to customers in parts of the U.S. And, being the first means there’s no established roadmap or playbook to follow.

We’re inventing the future today and relying on software to get us there. The flexibility of a software-centric foundation is critical on this journey to the future.

We may not have a turn-by-turn guide to getting there, but we’ve been planning for this since 2014.

One of the driving forces behind our overall network transformation is Network AI, our framework for using software-defined networking, artificial intelligence, and edge computing to create an autonomous network based on open source efforts.

It includes projects like ONAP, which is rapidly becoming the industry standard for deploying and managing a software-defined network.

It can be difficult to grasp the everyday importance of software. You can’t hold it like a device, and you don’t pack it in your laptop bag every morning.

While you can’t see ONAP, we expect customers using our 5G service will benefit. We’ll be able to deploy new services or add capacity at internet speed. Imagine the ease of being able to download a movie on your phone in 30 seconds. Or the ultra-low latency that could enable lifelike and untethered augmented reality and virtual reality environments. Eventually, ONAP could help manage the network connecting your autonomous car.

We’ve made tremendous progress on our software path in the past few years, and there are no signs of slowing down. With our collaborators, we recently launched the second version of ONAP, Beijing. It provides improved scalability and ease of deployment. And, our team is already hard at work on the third ONAP release, Casablanca, launching later this year.

The network will continue to grow and adapt, and we need ONAP to grow with it.

Embracing an open source approach, has meant the chance to collaborate with key industry players and deploy solutions faster. This continued focus on open source software enables us to build a cost-effective, flexible network that will power future devices and speed innovation to improve our world.

And with early stages of mobile, standards-based 5G right around the corner, that collaboration is more vital than ever.

We thank the developer community for getting us so far. And we’re asking them to continue driving this effort with us. Our customers – wireless customers around the world – are depending on it.

Chris Rice
Chris Rice Senior Vice President – AT&T Labs, Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design