Multinational telco AT&T has telegraphed its support for a disaggregated cellular network model which does away with traditional vendor tie-in, unveiling a white-box cell site gateway router based on specifications it submitted to the Open Compute Project (OCP) last year.
Highlighted in a piece on Lightwave Online, AT&T’s white-box router – manufactured by Ufi Space to specifications AT&T provided to the Open Compute Project late last year – was demonstrated in action during the Open Network Summit event in San Jose. It’s a design AT&T plans to roll out in volume: following a trial run in December last year, the company has confirmed plans to deploy more than 60,000 units across its US network.
The cell site gateway is only part of AT&T’s white-box approach, as outlined by the company earlier this month: the company has confirmed radio access network (RAN) intelligent controller (RIC) devices for 5G New Radio, in partnership with the O-RAN Alliance and based on open-source software; a Dedicated Internet white box router for business customers, with the first units live in Toronto and London and boasting support for ten times the traffic of the company’s previous proprietary router models; a Network Cloud white box for edge computing on 5G networks; and open-specification 400G optical networking hardware.
“What all these updates have in common is that they’re proving that our network transformation is real. It works,” says AT&T’s Andre Fuetsch. “We know there are entrenched interests that want to see the old models prevail. But that’s not happening. We’re determined to find a better path forward for ourselves, our industry, and, most importantly, for our customers. 5G is about to hit the gas. We want everyone to be ready.”
Lime Microsystems is currently working on the LimeNET CrowdCell, a software defined radio (SDR) network-in-a-box solution for small cell deployments with integrated general-purpose processing (GPP) capabilities for edge computing. Developed in parnership with cellular communications giant Vodafone, CrowdCell is a part of the Telecom Infra Project effort to disaggregate and open the previously closed communications network which underpin modern life. Like AT&T, Lime Micro believes that the future of the network must be more open for 5G and future technologies to truly flourish.