AT&T Wants to Virtualize the Access Network

AT&T will conduct a 10-Gbps XGS-PON field trial in late 2017, a key step towards . virtualizing access network within the last mile network. We tend to underplay the importance of such virtualization, as a key input into the business model.

By some estimates, operating costs represent the overwhelming portion of U.S. telecom service provider costs.

Nothing else comes close, as a driver of cost, or arguably, the overall business model, in the short term. That is true only if gross revenue remains at current levels. Any serious revenue declines would cause huge pressure for the business model.

And since the access network historically represents 80 percent of total capex or opex, anything AT&T and other service providers can take to reduce opex will be quite important for the business model.


The next-generation PON trial will aim to give consumer and business customers multi-gigabit per second (Gbps) internet speeds, with the business model being enhanced by sharing of much of the fiber investment needed to support 5G trunking infrastructure.

XGS-PON is a fixed wavelength symmetrical 10Gbps passive optic network technology. It also can coexist with the current GPON technology. It can provide 4X the existing downstream bandwidth. And it’s as cost-effective as GPON.

AT&T’s vision is to put some elements of XGS-PON in the cloud, and use open hardware and software designs. Those steps will save time needed to manage, deliver, monitor, troubleshoot and provide care services to customers.
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