Robert Soukup


DT to select its partner for SDN-enabled fixed access platform

Once again, Deutsche Telekom (DT) underpins its role as the leading European service provider. The next generation fixed broadband access will be built using bare metal hardware, cloud technology and a significant share of open source software.


The program Access 4.0 plans to deploy geographically distributed mini data centers at the network edge to produce broadband Internet and VPN access for their customers. Currently, DT is in the process of selecting a partner for jointly developing it’s outlined and prototyped solution. “We are looking for an open-source integrator in the networking industry, taking a leading position like Red Hat or Canonical in the IT-sector” says Robert Soukup, head of Access 4.0, DT’s program behind that paradigm change.

The telco industry currently undergoes a fundamental change. Formerly closed systems get disaggregated. The same happened in the mid 80’s with personal computers, leading to a paradigm change where hardware and software could be procured separately. In terms of the telco industry the aim is to split the hardware from the software when it comes to network components like switches or OLT (optical line termination). By doing so the hardware is reduced to so called “bare metal”, while the whole “intelligence” is put onto generic compute power, This increases cost transparency for the various components and will give DT more freedom when it comes to introducing additional vendors. Overall this will lead to decreased production costs due to more standardized bare metal hardware.

The concept of Access 4.0 does not stop there. SDN and softwarization are the real keys when it comes to automating the control, management and operation of the network in the most efficient way. Moreover, DT believes open interfaces and de facto standards will foster innovation and stoke competition. The advantages are obvious: for DT it’s scalability, cost efficiency and reduced time-to-market. The customers will experience faster rollouts of new services, that support the move to a gigabit society.

DT knows technical transformation also requires skill change. “This is more of a marathon than a sprint” explains Robert Soukup. “But the development is inevitable even though there are many challenges to master.”

The selection of the right tooling, the right interfaces and the right abstraction will be decisive and will require an experienced partner. In fact, Access 4.0 is organized as an IT project with a strong networking flavor. For the next steps DT seeks a partner who shares the overall vision and jointly shapes with DT this transformation process. The benefits can be enormous. 

DT already sees unparalleled agility improvements. Thanks to its existing partners under the overall integration lead of RadiSys (NASDAQ: RSYS), new software releases for their labs and live trials get churned out within days and weeks instead of months or years. The currently on-going tender invited incumbent and new players alike. DT hopes to make a final partner selection in a couple of weeks.