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07 Apr

AT&T Conducts Network Field Trials On Open Source White Box Switches

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Open Source White Box Switches

AT&T, the fastest internet provider in the country carried out advanced network trials last month using open source white box switches. The company has proclaimed the trials to be the first of its kind in the complete telecommunication sector. AT&T carried out these trials anticipating some of the future challenges in the domain of internet connectivity and services. The trials involved the use of white box switches made by two manufacturers and processors from three major silicon makers.

Carrying customer traffic across the country on its core network was the key feature of the trials. The company has also carried out a previous trial on its core network that used switches containing chipsets from Intel, Broadcom, and Barefoot networks. This enabled AT&T to use a common uniform open network operating system to meet the increasing need for real world data in many systems.

In addition, AT&T is also altering its network for an SDN (Software Defined Networking) service. The tested white boxes have helped the carrier to provide effective telemetry data into the ECOMP platform for monitoring traffic data. In implementing this technology, AT&T expects that this could bring about major innovations on all connected devices.

The white box switches were made by the effort of a group of manufacturers. Chipset majors like Intel Corporation, Broadcom, Delta Electronics, Edgecore Networks, SnapRoute and Barefoot Networks provided the necessary hardware and software that operates the network switches. The Agema AGC7648A made by Delta Electronics used the Qumran silicon chips made by Broadcom and utilized the SnapRoute network in one location. Edgecore’s Wedge 100BF systems were used in the second location. FlexSwitch SnapRoute’s open network operating system was utilized to control and unify the OS.

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Network Field Trials

Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and chief technology officer said, “We’re in the early stages of this process, but already we see huge potential for increasing the speed of innovation, lowering costs and, most importantly, staying ahead of the needs of our customers. With this trial, we went from using traditional switches the size of multiple refrigerators to a chip that can literally fit in the palm of your hand. We think white box will be a big part of the future of the wide area network.”

AT&T’s implementation of these network trials reflects the massive increase in data traffic on the wireless network since the last decade. This will facilitate the development of a wide range of futuristic technologies much sooner to help AT&T retain the position as the fastest internet provider.

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