AT&T launched the next generation of its Supplier Domain Program with the aim of selecting vendors to support its rapid evolution to cloud-based infrastructure leveraging Network Function Virtualization (NFV), Software Defined Networks (SDN) and modern operational approaches.
The Domain 2.0 initiative is expected to significantly reduce the time required to pivot to this target architecture while accelerating time-to-market with technologically advanced products and services. Specifically, AT&T plans to simplify and scale its network by:
- Separating hardware and software functionality;
- Separating network control plane and forwarding planes; and
- Improving management of functionality in the software layer.
Under the Supplier Domain 2.0 Program, AT&T plans to begin selecting vendors and awarding business beginning in late 2013 and through 2014. The company said it expects some of these capabilities will come from its current providers, while others will require some new providers with different skills and capabilities.
AT&T also noted that it is not revising its previously announced capital expenditure guidance for 2014-15 as a result of this announcement. However, in the next five years, AT&T expects this program to reflect a downward bias toward capital spending.
"Our goal is to ensure that each investment accelerates our move towards an advanced all-IP broadband, all-wireless, and all-cloud infrastructure, delivers on the full promise of game-changing technologies, provides an industry leading customer experience, and maintains focus on a capital-efficient network," said Tim Harden, President, AT&T Supply Chain.
In September 2009, AT&T outlined a new "Domain Supplier 1.0" program aimed at transforming the way it purchases network equipment. As a key part of the program, the company has established a number of "domains" -- areas of the future network bounded by a particular technology set, such as wireline access. Within each of these domains are target technologies. For example, the wireline access domain includes technologies such as IP/DSLAM and FTTx. Each domain will have two suppliers selected and pre-qualified by AT&T.
AT&T said it will work closely with selected suppliers over a multi-year period in order to define solutions that meet current and future needs. This includes sharing timelines, project roadmaps and other information, enabling suppliers to more quickly realize revenue due to expedited deployment of their hardware or software. In addition, regardless of the size of the initial business award from AT&T, each supplier within a domain will have an opportunity to expand the award beyond its initial scope.