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AT&T latest operator to back open source start-ups

In recent weeks, we have seen several mobile operators investing in start-ups which could reduce the power of the established network and platform suppliers. In many cases, these are linked to open source efforts such as the Facebook-driven Telecom Infra Project (TIP), and are pursuing an entirely new cost base for mobile deployment. Orange and BT have both announced programs to incubate infrastructure start-ups and connect them to the TIP ecosystem, and now AT&T has unveiled similar plans – though these are connected to its own open source endeavors.

AT&T has pledged $200m to a venture capital fund to support start-ups which are focused on solutions for global telcos, particularly related to ONAP (Open Network Automation Platform). ONAP is an open source project based largely on the ECOMP technology for orchestration and management of virtual networks, which AT&T developed inhouse and then opened up to the whole industry. It was later combined with a similar project by China Mobile, Open-O, under the ONAP label.

Activities like ONAP highlight AT&T’s desire to up-end the traditional network supply chain and drive costs down dramatically while enabling fast-track virtualization of its systems. And by pushing these efforts outside its own organization, it can also drive economies of scale into the resulting solutions to improve its own buying power and create a broad ecosystem, and it can assert considerable influence over the direction of software-defined telco networks and 5G. That is the sort of influence which large vendors traditionally enjoy, and which web players like Facebook are trying to usurp.

AT&T, and even Facebook TIP supporters like Orange, aim to ensure that neither of those categories emerges at the top of the value chain. Instead, armed with inhouse developments, open source initiatives and clever but malleable start-up vendors, they are trying to create a new supply chain focused on the operators.

The US operator is investing in the Coral Group’s Communications Industry Platform (CIP) fund, which claims a high success rate in identifying start-ups which are addressing service provider challenges with technologies that run on ONAP, said Andre Fuetsch, CTO of AT&T and president of AT&T Labs.

According to the Coral Group, the focus of CIP is on “large, move-the-needle opportunities initiated by our strategic collaborators”, as chairman Yuval Almog put it. The two companies will be looking for other investors in CIP too, according to their statement. Interestingly, Telefonica also invested in Coral’s CIP a few years ago.

“This investment is part of our push to address the needs of global service providers,” said Fuetsch. “We look forward to collaborating with Coral and other CIP members to find – and even create – start-up companies to build disruptive technologies to solve these challenges.”

In June, Orange announced Telecom Track, which will support network infrastructure start-ups in association with TIP, and the UK’s BT is evaluating start-ups for a similar scheme. Both have been supporting TIP, as a potential way to disrupt the network equipment space ahead of 5G, forcing major vendors to adjust to a radically different pricing model and supply chain structure – or be sidelined over time by a new ecosystem focused on open, low cost hardware.

Orange has already hinted, as it introduced the four choices for Telecom Track, that it could see them replacing the likes of Ericsson over time. Its first four companies are Amarisoft, which specializes in virtualized RAN technology; Athonet, which is developing software-based mobile core platforms; Adipsys, whose WiFi hotspot management system is already in use at Orange; and Horizon Computing, which focuses on cost-efficiency innovations for telco data centers.

They will be part of a dedicated program for network infrastructure, called Telecom Track, which Orange has set up within its Orange Fab start-up accelerator division and eligible for financial backing from the telco’s investment fund, Orange Digital Ventures, and its VC partners (though the funding is not guaranteed).

Now BT is evaluating its own likely candidates to transform the economics of building telecoms networks. The start-ups it selects will become part of its TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Centres (TEAC) and be eligible for funding from BT’s TEAC fund, which is worth $165m.

Earlier this year BT announced two TEACs, one in London and the other in its BT Labs R&D center at Adastral Park. The TEACs are the main vehicle by which Facebook’s initiative works through established operators. The operators incubate and sometimes fund the start-ups, which become part of the global network which Facebook hopes TIP will become, mirroring its older Open Compute Project for cloud computer hardware. The aim is to have TEACs around the world, which will, as BT describes it, “create a global, sustainable ecosystem that attracts the brightest entrepreneurial minds and innovative investors to work together to produce breakthrough technologies and products in the telecom infrastructure space.”

The financial commitment from AT&T goes well beyond the activities of Orange and BT. Those telcos, as well as not promising hard cash, are working around a third party platform which they hope to influence, but not control. AT&T is bidding to make its own technology a de facto standard, and extend its remit from its roots in virtual network management and orchestration (MANO) into a full network operating system. If successful, that would not only sideline efforts by official, traditional standards organizations, notably ETSI’s Open Source MANO, but would put an operator-devised platform into a position which a vendor like Cisco would normally expect to fill.

“We believe ONAP is going to be the network operating system for the majority of the network operators out there,” Igal Elbaz, VP of ecosystem and innovation for AT&T Services, told LightReading. “If you build anything on top of our network from a services perspective, obviously you want to build on top of ONAP. But many operators are adopting this solution so you can create a ubiquitous solution that can touch a large number of customers and end users around the world.”

Elbaz explained that AT&T would work closely with the start-ups in the initial period “where we are identifying some of the areas where we want thAT&T latest operator to back open source start-ups

In recent weeks, we have seen several mobile operators investing in start-ups which could reduce the power of the established network and platform suppliers. In many cases, these are linked to open source efforts such as the Facebook-driven Telecom Infra Project (TIP), and are pursuing an entirely new cost base for mobile deployment. Orange and BT have both announced programs to incubate infrastructure start-ups and connect them to the TIP ecosystem, and now AT&T has unveiled similar plans – though these are connected to its own open source endeavors.

AT&T has pledged $200m to a venture capital fund to support start-ups which are focused on solutions for global telcos, particularly related to ONAP (Open Network Automation Platform). ONAP is an open source project based largely on the ECOMP technology for orchestration and management of virtual networks, which AT&T developed inhouse and then opened up to the whole industry. It was later combined with a similar project by China Mobile, Open-O, under the ONAP label.

Activities like ONAP highlight AT&T’s desire to up-end the traditional network supply chain and drive costs down dramatically while enabling fast-track virtualization of its systems. And by pushing these efforts outside its own organization, it can also drive economies of scale into the resulting solutions to improve its own buying power and create a broad ecosystem, and it can assert considerable influence over the direction of software-defined telco networks and 5G. That is the sort of influence which large vendors traditionally enjoy, and which web players like Facebook are trying to usurp.

AT&T, and even Facebook TIP supporters like Orange, aim to ensure that neither of those categories emerges at the top of the value chain. Instead, armed with inhouse developments, open source initiatives and clever but malleable start-up vendors, they are trying to create a new supply chain focused on the operators.

The US operator is investing in the Coral Group’s Communications Industry Platform (CIP) fund, which claims a high success rate in identifying start-ups which are addressing service provider challenges with technologies that run on ONAP, said Andre Fuetsch, CTO of AT&T and president of AT&T Labs.

According to the Coral Group, the focus of CIP is on “large, move-the-needle opportunities initiated by our strategic collaborators”, as chairman Yuval Almog put it. The two companies will be looking for other investors in CIP too, according to their statement. Interestingly, Telefonica also invested in Coral’s CIP a few years ago.

“This investment is part of our push to address the needs of global service providers,” said Fuetsch. “We look forward to collaborating with Coral and other CIP members to find – and even create – start-up companies to build disruptive technologies to solve these challenges.”

In June, Orange announced Telecom Track, which will support network infrastructure start-ups in association with TIP, and the UK’s BT is evaluating start-ups for a similar scheme. Both have been supporting TIP, as a potential way to disrupt the network equipment space ahead of 5G, forcing major vendors to adjust to a radically different pricing model and supply chain structure – or be sidelined over time by a new ecosystem focused on open, low cost hardware.

Orange has already hinted, as it introduced the four choices for Telecom Track, that it could see them replacing the likes of Ericsson over time. Its first four companies are Amarisoft, which specializes in virtualized RAN technology; Athonet, which is developing software-based mobile core platforms; Adipsys, whose WiFi hotspot management system is already in use at Orange; and Horizon Computing, which focuses on cost-efficiency innovations for telco data centers.

They will be part of a dedicated program for network infrastructure, called Telecom Track, which Orange has set up within its Orange Fab start-up accelerator division and eligible for financial backing from the telco’s investment fund, Orange Digital Ventures, and its VC partners (though the funding is not guaranteed).

Now BT is evaluating its own likely candidates to transform the economics of building telecoms networks. The start-ups it selects will become part of its TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Centres (TEAC) and be eligible for funding from BT’s TEAC fund, which is worth $165m.

Earlier this year BT announced two TEACs, one in London and the other in its BT Labs R&D center at Adastral Park. The TEACs are the main vehicle by which Facebook’s initiative works through established operators. The operators incubate and sometimes fund the start-ups, which become part of the global network which Facebook hopes TIP will become, mirroring its older Open Compute Project for cloud computer hardware. The aim is to have TEACs around the world, which will, as BT describes it, “create a global, sustainable ecosystem that attracts the brightest entrepreneurial minds and innovative investors to work together to produce breakthrough technologies and products in the telecom infrastructure space.”

The financial commitment from AT&T goes well beyond the activities of Orange and BT. Those telcos, as well as not promising hard cash, are working around a third party platform which they hope to influence, but not control. AT&T is bidding to make its own technology a de facto standard, and extend its remit from its roots in virtual network management and orchestration (MANO) into a full network operating system. If successful, that would not only sideline efforts by official, traditional standards organizations, notably ETSI’s Open Source MANO, but would put an operator-devised platform into a position which a vendor like Cisco would normally expect to fill.

“We believe ONAP is going to be the network operating system for the majority of the network operators out there,” Igal Elbaz, VP of ecosystem and innovation for AT&T Services, told LightReading. “If you build anything on top of our network from a services perspective, obviously you want to build on top of ONAP. But many operators are adopting this solution so you can create a ubiquitous solution that can touch a large number of customers and end users around the world.”

Elbaz explained that AT&T would work closely with the start-ups in the initial period “where we are identifying some of the areas where we want them to deliver solutions … We are going to work with them, be open with them on what we are interested in, then they will have to deliver.”

This is an additional layer to AT&T’s considerable activities with start-ups that might help it revolutionize its network and its supply chain. It has invested in companies such as Massive MIMO antenna company Blue Danube Systems and SnapRoute, which provided the network OS for the AT&T/Barefoot white box switch. And a series of AT&T Foundry sites, and the AT&T Labs program, also work with promising new companies.

AT&T latest operator to back open source start-ups

In recent weeks, we have seen several mobile operators investing in start-ups which could reduce the power of the established network and platform suppliers. In many cases, these are linked to open source efforts such as the Facebook-driven Telecom Infra Project (TIP), and are pursuing an entirely new cost base for mobile deployment. Orange and BT have both announced programs to incubate infrastructure start-ups and connect them to the TIP ecosystem, and now AT&T has unveiled similar plans – though these are connected to its own open source endeavors.

AT&T has pledged $200m to a venture capital fund to support start-ups which are focused on solutions for global telcos, particularly related to ONAP (Open Network Automation Platform). ONAP is an open source project based largely on the ECOMP technology for orchestration and management of virtual networks, which AT&T developed inhouse and then opened up to the whole industry. It was later combined with a similar project by China Mobile, Open-O, under the ONAP label.

Activities like ONAP highlight AT&T’s desire to up-end the traditional network supply chain and drive costs down dramatically while enabling fast-track virtualization of its systems. And by pushing these efforts outside its own organization, it can also drive economies of scale into the resulting solutions to improve its own buying power and create a broad ecosystem, and it can assert considerable influence over the direction of software-defined telco networks and 5G. That is the sort of influence which large vendors traditionally enjoy, and which web players like Facebook are trying to usurp.

AT&T, and even Facebook TIP supporters like Orange, aim to ensure that neither of those categories emerges at the top of the value chain. Instead, armed with inhouse developments, open source initiatives and clever but malleable start-up vendors, they are trying to create a new supply chain focused on the operators.

The US operator is investing in the Coral Group’s Communications Industry Platform (CIP) fund, which claims a high success rate in identifying start-ups which are addressing service provider challenges with technologies that run on ONAP, said Andre Fuetsch, CTO of AT&T and president of AT&T Labs.

According to the Coral Group, the focus of CIP is on “large, move-the-needle opportunities initiated by our strategic collaborators”, as chairman Yuval Almog put it. The two companies will be looking for other investors in CIP too, according to their statement. Interestingly, Telefonica also invested in Coral’s CIP a few years ago.

“This investment is part of our push to address the needs of global service providers,” said Fuetsch. “We look forward to collaborating with Coral and other CIP members to find – and even create – start-up companies to build disruptive technologies to solve these challenges.”

In June, Orange announced Telecom Track, which will support network infrastructure start-ups in association with TIP, and the UK’s BT is evaluating start-ups for a similar scheme. Both have been supporting TIP, as a potential way to disrupt the network equipment space ahead of 5G, forcing major vendors to adjust to a radically different pricing model and supply chain structure – or be sidelined over time by a new ecosystem focused on open, low cost hardware.

Orange has already hinted, as it introduced the four choices for Telecom Track, that it could see them replacing the likes of Ericsson over time. Its first four companies are Amarisoft, which specializes in virtualized RAN technology; Athonet, which is developing software-based mobile core platforms; Adipsys, whose WiFi hotspot management system is already in use at Orange; and Horizon Computing, which focuses on cost-efficiency innovations for telco data centers.

They will be part of a dedicated program for network infrastructure, called Telecom Track, which Orange has set up within its Orange Fab start-up accelerator division and eligible for financial backing from the telco’s investment fund, Orange Digital Ventures, and its VC partners (though the funding is not guaranteed).

Now BT is evaluating its own likely candidates to transform the economics of building telecoms networks. The start-ups it selects will become part of its TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Centres (TEAC) and be eligible for funding from BT’s TEAC fund, which is worth $165m.

Earlier this year BT announced two TEACs, one in London and the other in its BT Labs R&D center at Adastral Park. The TEACs are the main vehicle by which Facebook’s initiative works through established operators. The operators incubate and sometimes fund the start-ups, which become part of the global network which Facebook hopes TIP will become, mirroring its older Open Compute Project for cloud computer hardware. The aim is to have TEACs around the world, which will, as BT describes it, “create a global, sustainable ecosystem that attracts the brightest entrepreneurial minds and innovative investors to work together to produce breakthrough technologies and products in the telecom infrastructure space.”

The financial commitment from AT&T goes well beyond the activities of Orange and BT. Those telcos, as well as not promising hard cash, are working around a third party platform which they hope to influence, but not control. AT&T is bidding to make its own technology a de facto standard, and extend its remit from its roots in virtual network management and orchestration (MANO) into a full network operating system. If successful, that would not only sideline efforts by official, traditional standards organizations, notably ETSI’s Open Source MANO, but would put an operator-devised platform into a position which a vendor like Cisco would normally expect to fill.

“We believe ONAP is going to be the network operating system for the majority of the network operators out there,” Igal Elbaz, VP of ecosystem and innovation for AT&T Services, told LightReading. “If you build anything on top of our network from a services perspective, obviously you want to build on top of ONAP. But many operators are adopting this solution so you can create a ubiquitous solution that can touch a large number of customers and end users around the world.”

Elbaz explained that AT&T would work closely with the start-ups in the initial period “where we are identifying some of the areas where we want them to deliver solutions … We are going to work with them, be open with them on what we are interested in, then they will have to deliver.”

This is an additional layer to AT&T’s considerable activities with start-ups that might help it revolutionize its network and its supply chain. It has invested in companies such as Massive MIMO antenna company Blue Danube Systems and SnapRoute, which provided the network OS for the AT&T/Barefoot white box switch. And a series of AT&T Foundry sites, and the AT&T Labs program, also work with promising new companies.

em to deliver solutions … We are going to work with them, be open with them on what we are interested in, then they will have to deliver.”

This is an additional layer to AT&T’s considerable activities with start-ups that might help it revolutionize its network and its supply chain. It has invested in companies such as Massive MIMO antenna company Blue Danube Systems and SnapRoute, which provided the network OS for the AT&T/Barefoot white box switch. And a series of AT&T Foundry sites, and the AT&T Labs program, also work with promising new companies.

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