AT&T: Meeting Its Software-Enablement Goal a Virtual Certainty

Carl Weinschenk

AT&T is almost half way toward its goal of virtualizing 75 percent of its network by 2020.

It software-enabled 34 percent of the AT&T network last year, according to Fierce Telecom. Chief Strategy Officer and Group Vice President John Donovan told attendees of the 2017 Internet, Media & Telecommunications Conference that the hardest part is moving from 5 percent to 30 percent. Surpassing 30 percent and, presumably, getting into a rhythm, “really bodes well for us for 2017 to get the things done that we want to do,” Donovan said.
AT&T has been active and vocal in its quest to transition to software-defined networks and network functions virtualization (SDN and NFV). These approaches deemphasize hardware in an effort to make networks more reactive, less expensive, and easier to configure and manage.

FTC Offers Reward for IoT Security

One of the gnawing fears that the telecommunications and IT industries have is that the Internet of Things (IoT) will prove completely insecure and will melt down into a morass of hacks and cracks. The Mirai malware, for instance, which gains entry to the internet though IoT-connected devices such as surveillance cameras, emerged late in the year.


That, of course, did nothing to reassure people. This week, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took a step by offering a $25,000 prize to those finding a way to automate software updates for IoT devices. Honorable mentions will each get $3,000. The winning device, Computerworld said, may be a physical device, an app or a cloud-based service.

House Bill Could Endanger FCC, FTC Regs

In a move that could affect recent telecommunications regulations, members of the new Congress have reintroduced legislation that would ease the overturning of regulations introduced during the last year of a presidential term.

The measure passed by a vote of 238 to 184 this week. Broadcasting & Cable says that the bill would apply to the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission (FCC and FTC). For instance, the FCC’s broadband privacy regulations and Lifeline subsidy reforms could be rescinded.

The bill, named the “Midnight Rules Relief Act,” was criticized by outside groups and was backed by only a few Democrats.

IoT Spending to Soar

New technologies grow quickly in terms of percentage figures since they start from zero. Growth, measured in that way, is even more dramatic if the technology is hot from the start.

That’s what is happening with the Internet of Things (IoT). IDC says that worldwide spending on the pervasive new technology will have reached $737 billion last year once the figures are tabulated. The compound annual growth rate for IoT spending from 2015 to 2020 will be 15.6 percent, with spending reaching $1.29 trillion in 2020.

IDC offers an industry-by-industry spending breakdown: Manufacturing ($178 billion), transportation ($78 billion) and utilities ($69 billion) are the top three categories. The research shows that consumer IoT purchases, which was the fourth largest category last year, will move up to third by 2020. Spending on technology that cuts across industries (the examples in the press release are connected vehicles and smart buildings) will be a top spending item through the study period. The retail, health care, consumer and insurance categories will be the fastest growing, IDC says.

HDMI 2.1 Introduced at CES

It’s important to follow the consumer electronics industry because what it produces ends up, sooner or later, as tools for business. The growth of video is especially important because its requirements potentially could affect distribution requirements.

At CES this week, the HDMI Forum announced version 2.1 of its standard. The new version, which the press release says is backward-compatible with earlier versions of HDMI, offers 8,000 pixel resolutions at 60 Hz refresh cycles or 4,000 pixel resolution at 120 Hz cycles. A new 48G cable will be necessary, according to the HDMI Forum.

HDMI 2.1 also offers Dynamic Range HDR for extended depth, detail, brightness, contrast and color gamut, game mode VRR and other features.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.


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