AT&T Aims for Seamless Transition to Next Wireless Generation Via Software Updates: Chris Sambar

Chris Sambar, Head of Network at AT&T, unveiled the telecommunications giant’s ambitious plans at the Mobile World Congress (MWC 2024) today.
AT&T 5G businessSpeaking at the event, Chris Sambar outlined AT&T’s strategic goal of transitioning to the next wireless generation through software updates alone.

AT&T, one of the top telecoms, earlier revealed that its capital expenditures (Capex) for 2023 touched $17.9 billion. AT&T’s capital investment, which includes $5.7 billion of cash payments for vendor financing, totaled $23.6 billion last year. AT&T’s mid-band 5G spectrum covers 210 million+ people.

“In our pursuit of building the network of the future, AT&T is embracing an open architecture approach, allowing us to integrate ‘best of breed’ components from various vendors,” Chris Sambar said.

He emphasized the crucial role of Dell Technologies, along with key partners such as telecom equipment maker Ericsson, in facilitating this transition. Chris Sambar also highlighted Dell’s significant contribution in providing foundational servers for AT&T’s evolving network infrastructure.

AT&T’s journey towards cloud transformation was underscored, with Chris Sambar recalling pivotal moments such as the decision to virtualize the network in 2013 and the subsequent shift towards becoming a cloud-first company in 2019. This strategic shift enabled AT&T to enhance network capabilities rapidly, respond more effectively to market dynamics, and deliver superior services to customers.

“The network has emerged as the ‘killer app’ reshaping our lifestyles and work environments,” Chris Sambar said, emphasizing its role as an innovation platform empowering developers to create novel products and services.

Looking ahead, Chris Sambar outlined AT&T’s recent investment in Open RAN technology as a crucial step towards the wireless future. This initiative aims to accelerate nationwide 5G deployment and transition 70 percent of AT&T’s wireless network traffic to “open” hardware and software infrastructure. Chris Sambar expressed confidence in fostering increased supplier competition and nurturing a vibrant ecosystem to address radio design challenges.

To support these endeavors, AT&T is collaborating with major network operators to establish an Open RAN Testing, Evaluation, and R&D Center in the Dallas area, with a satellite facility in Washington, D.C. The initiative, bolstered by funding from the NTIA, underscores a collective commitment to wireless innovation.

In a significant milestone, AT&T successfully conducted its first cloud RAN call with Ericsson, marking progress in deploying Open RAN technology and paving the way for commercial traffic on cloud RAN sites.

AT&T’s announcements at MWC 2024 signify a concerted effort to redefine the future of telecommunications through innovation, collaboration, and a commitment to open technologies. As the industry evolves, AT&T remains poised to lead the charge towards a more connected and agile wireless ecosystem.