AT&T Introduces the "User-Defined Network Cloud": A Vision for the Network of the Future

Customers to Have More Control and Ability to Add New Network Services On-Demand and in Near Real-Time; First Four Vendors Announced as Vendor Review and Selection Process Continues

Dallas, Texas, February 24, 2014

AT&T* today introduced its vision for the company’s network of the future, titled the “User-Defined Network Cloud.”  Supported by its Domain 2.0 supplier program, AT&T is putting customers at the center of the network with a modern, cloud-based architecture that is a global first at this scale.  The shift will build on AT&T’s best-in-class network status, and is expected to significantly reduce the time required to pivot to this architecture and accelerate time-to-market with technologically-advanced products and services.

AT&T also announced today the first group of companies selected to work on the company’s strategy.  Ericsson, Tail-F Systems AB, and Metaswitch Networks LTD have been selected to begin further discussions on design and deployment.  In addition, Affirmed Networks, Inc., has been chosen to work with AT&T on a virtualized Evolved Packet Core (EPC).  AT&T also has selected to work with Ericsson on integration and transformation services. Further selections will take place through the end of 2014.  Focus will be on technology roadmap, quality, cost, innovation, among other factors. 

“Our strategy is a vision for our network of the future that delivers what our customers want, when they want it, by tapping into the latest technologies and open network principles,” said Tim Harden, President, AT&T Supply Chain. “It’s a fundamentally new and unique way to build a user-defined public network that addresses the changing needs of our customers.  It’s more than just a change in how the network is designed. It also changes how we do business, our relationships with suppliers and how we manage software.  We’re reinventing how we scale and operate to manage our services easier, similar to how they’re provided in cloud data centers.” 

“AT&T is transforming the WAN in the way IT transformed the data center,” said Roger Entner, Founder and Lead Analyst, Recon Analytics. “It’s an ambitious program and turns the traditional vendor relationship on its head, opening the doors for new, innovative companies to participate.”

AT&T is not revising its previously announced capital expenditure guidance as a result of this announcement.  However, in the next five years, AT&T expects its Domain 2.0 program to reflect a downward bias toward capital spending. 

“While our current vendors have an opportunity to be involved in the Domain 2.0 process, we're expanding the net to harness the new, innovative ideas from non-traditional network players, such as smaller companies, open source alternatives and universities to participate in our new ecosystem as well,” Harden said. “We’re going to stay open to new ideas and maintain an ongoing, competitive process.”

AT&T’s pivot to a modern, software-based architecture also is creating employment opportunities within the company. AT&T has begun putting out a recruiting call for qualified innovators – including those with a working understanding of distributed systems and networking, as well as broad knowledge of virtualization and cloud orchestration technologies.

More details on this initiative can be viewed online at

The User-Defined Network Cloud is a transformative initiative.  Integrated through AT&T’s Wide Area Network (WAN) and utilizing Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networks (SDN), as well as modern architectural and operational approaches, AT&T plans to simplify and scale its network by:

  • Separating hardware and software functionality;  
  • Separating network control plane and forwarding planes; and
  • Improving management of functionality in the software layer.   

Software Defined Networks shifts control of the network from hardware to software to remove physical limitations.  This creates a programmable network that is more flexible, efficient and aware of applications.  Network Function Virtualization moves network functions from hardware-based operations into something that can be done via software. This means that we can update network tasks remotely and more quickly without having to rely on specialized equipment.

With these advances, AT&T plans to increase the value of its network by:

  • Driving improved time-to-revenue;
  • Providing cost-performance leadership;
  • Enabling new growth services and apps;
  • Ensuring world-class, industry leading security, performance and reliability; and
  • Facilitating new business and revenue models.

AT&T’s innovation and investment have resulted in a best-in-class nationwide network, with ultra-fast speeds and a consistent user experience. AT&T has the most reliable 4G LTE network.**  AT&T’s network performance has also been validated by third-party testing.

  • Our 4G LTE service was recognized as having faster average download and upload speeds than any of our competitors in PCWorld/TechHive’s most recent 20-market speed tests — the second consecutive year that AT&T has ranked first overall. PCWorld/TechHive also ranked AT&T’s as the fastest combination of 3G and 4G services in the 20 cities it tested.***
  • And AT&T was named America’s fastest 4G LTE network in PC Magazine’s 2013 Fastest Mobile Networks 30-market study — and also swept the top rankings in all six U.S. regions from coast to coast: Northeast, Southeast, North-Central, South-Central, Northwest and Southwest.****