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AT&T fiber build still on; SDN survey shows provider deployment

In telecom news, an SDN survey found service providers are increasing deployments, while AT&T denied it was putting its fiber plans on hold.

This week in telecom news, a survey found that service providers are increasingly deploying SDN in their production networks, but have concerns over the lack of industry standards.

Meanwhile, AT&T announced that it will proceed with its plans for a nationwide fiber network rollout despite CEO Randall Stephenson's claims to the contrary.

The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) advanced wireless spectrum auction has surpassed revenue expectations with nearly $40 billion in bids. The FCC planned to raise a minimum of $10 billion to fund projects and reduce deficit.

Increased provider SDN deployment and standards concerns, survey shows

With any new technology, looking at the percentage of adoption over a year can sound huge, especially because it starts small. In terms of software-defined networking, route analytics firm Packet Design surveyed 64 attendees of the SDN/MPLS International Conference in Washington, D.C., and found that 53% of mostly service provider participants have some SDN deployed in their production networks, compared to 19% in 2013. About 42% of respondents said they have up to 25% of their networks SDN-enabled, and 11% said they have between 26% and 75% of their networks as production SDN. Those numbers are generally higher than most SDN deployment figures.

In addition, 56% of respondents had concerns about the lack of industry SDN standards, up from 26% the year before. SDN complexity was the runner-up concern for service providers, coming in with 53%, which fell by 3% in the past year.

The main business driver behind SDN was supporting new services like cloud, big data applications and mobility, according to almost 60% of the respondents. A full 94% said SDN management challenges require new analytics and orchestration tools, although 60% said they believe they will need fewer management tools for SDN. -- Kate Gerwig

AT&T fiber rollout not on hold despite CEO claims

AT&T is proceeding with its planned fiber rollout after CEO Randall Stephenson said the carrier was pausing rollout plans until the net neutrality debate was settled.

"We can't go out and invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments will be governed," Stephenson said at a Nov. 12 analyst conference.

In a letter to the FCC, however, AT&T senior vice president Robert Quinn said the carrier still plans to expand its GigaPower fiber network in 25 metropolitan areas.

AT&T's fiber expansion is tied to its bid to acquire DirecTV. Initially, AT&T said that it would expand its fiber network to two million homes with the merger and would go one step further to expand the network to 100 cities in 25 metropolitan areas. But at the Nov. 12 meeting, Stephenson said plans to expand beyond the two million homes were on hold.

The FCC requested that AT&T explain why those plans changed amid the net neutrality debate.

AT&T seemed to backtrack from Stephenson's statement, saying the premise of the FCC's request was incorrect. Instead, the carrier may not take on new initiatives such as upgrading existing DSL lines.

"AT&T simply cannot evaluate additional investment beyond its existing commitments until the regulatory treatment of broadband service is clarified," Quinn said.

FCC spectrum auction surpasses revenue expectations

Bidding on the FCC's AWS-3 wireless spectrum auction has reached nearly $40 billion -- almost quadruple the FCC's reserve price of $10.587 billion.

The auction of AWS-3, the band that falls between the 2155 and 2175 MHz spectrum range, began on Nov. 13 and resumed Monday after taking a break for Thanksgiving.

Many carriers, including Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, are participating in the auction, as the spectrum is designed to accommodate smartphone data usage. Verizon and AT&T are expected to win spectrum licenses to cover large metropolitan areas, while T-Mobile and other smaller carriers are expected to win smaller licenses, according to FierceWireless.

The proceeds of the auction will go to several projects including the funding of FirstNet, an emergency communications network, and toward deficit reduction.

The auction will end when there are no new bids. When the FCC issues a public notice announcing the end of the auction, winning bidders will need to meet a down payment deadline and file an application for the licenses within 10 days of the end of the auction.

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Have you deployed or have you considered deploying SDN in your production networks?
Yes. The use of SDN solutions help to speed up a network or bring accuracy to a system with little to no effort. Workloads are improved by influencing a virtual machine monitor controlling machinery. The SDN also has the capacity of open flow manipulating switches and levers.