Next Generation Networks: The Advent of Open Operating Systems

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Ten years ago Apple introduced the world to the iPhone.  Just prior to that launch, who could have predicted the capabilities and robust consumer interaction with smartphones that now exist a mere ten years later?  Today, we’re on the verge of another innovation explosion that will bring an exciting future of connected cars, connected homes, smart cities, and billions of connected devices with the Internet of Things (IoT).

On June 27th, AT&T’s Policy Forum hosted our second symposium:  Next Generation Networks:  The Advent of Open Operating Systems.  As part of our commitment to bring together policymakers, academia, and industry, the Next Generation Networks symposium provided insight into the Global Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), as well as an in-depth discussion on the Internet of Things.

Since the iPhone launch ten years ago, AT&T has seen traffic grow by over 250,000% on our networks.  Andre Fuetsch, President of AT&T Labs and Chief Technology Officer, described some of the technological shifts taking place over the past ten years, including the rise of Software Defined Networks, the migration from centralized to distributed cloud computing, and the impact of data analytics.  These shifts will deliver an exciting new world of virtual reality, augmented reality, smart cities, and billions of connected devices, which will in turn drive massive growth throughout our networks.  To take connected devices as one example, experts estimate that over 20 billion devices will be connected as part of the Internet of Things by 2022 – and those billions will jump even higher to 28 billion by 2025.  As Glen Lurie, President and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Operations, noted, “Inanimate objects are going to take care of us.  Everything in your life will be connected and you want to be in control.”

The rise of so many new services and applications will require a common platform to orchestrate diverse software functions.  At AT&T, we realized that going at it alone wasn’t going to grow the ecosystem for service provider SDN fast enough; so, we collaborated with others to create the Open Network Automation Platform, or ONAP – for everybody to use.  ONAP basically allows applications to run on networks similar to how they run on smartphones, enabling a whole new world of applications.  A large and vibrant community is already using ONAP for its development work – today, over ten global mobile service operators representing 43% of the global mobile market use ONAP to build and deliver the connected world of tomorrow.

AT&T looks forward to bringing a connected world to all communities.  We recognize the great value of the diversity of our cities, and we’re working hard to ensure that everybody has the opportunity to participate in the exciting future that’s coming.  To this end, we look forward to continuing to use AT&T’s Policy Forum to bring together all stakeholders to help expand opportunities for all our communities.