BARCELONA, Spain — AT&T and VMware are partnering to implement 5G capabilities into the carrier’s SD-WAN offering. AT&T called this a “transformative combination,” claiming that it will bring better control to both the SD-WAN software and the cellular network.
AT&T has two SD-WAN offerings: its network-based SD-WAN, which it initially launched in the U.S. in 2017 and expanded to over 150 countries in 2018, and its over-the-top SD-WAN offering, which is based on VMware’s VeloCloud SD-WAN. Both offerings will use VMware technology.
The carrier launched its mobile 5G service in 12 markets at the end of last year. AT&T later said that alongside mobile 5G, fixed wireless and edge computing will comprise its three service pillars of its 5G strategy.
This extension of AT&T’s partnership with VMware is part of its fixed wireless pillar in that it will add the SD-WAN services as part of its nationwide Wireless Broadband offering.
Starting now, businesses will be able to leverage SD-WAN alongside its cellular network, and will be able to upgrade that to 5G connection — when it’s available — by changing the modem. The 5G capabilities will extend its current SD-WAN offerings where it’s deployed.
AT&T says that combining SD-WAN and 5G will work on two levels to provide flexibility to manage applications at the network edge. One, it will be able to tell applications which transport to use, and two, it will control the policies for traffic moving over 5G.
One use case that the carrier identified was in the manufacturing industry. It said that the 5G network would be able to isolate a slice of the network to handle certain floor robotics that rely on ultra-low latency, and run the less time-sensitive edge compute services across a parallel path.
AT&T competitor Verizon announced a similar partnership today with Cisco. The two companies said that Verizon’s virtual network services will support 5G devices on Cisco’s Viptela-based SD-WAN platform.