Demand on carrier networks has grown exponentially as people and content in a connected world continue to increase for consumers and businesses. Our industry is at the cusp of another transformation, driven by ever faster, more intelligent, and distributed information processing at the edge of our networks for enterprise applications.

For example, enabled by machine learning and artificial intelligence, IoT devices are no longer just sensors. Now they can identify and only send relevant data across mobile and fixed access networks, either to a centralized data center for analytics, or increasingly to the edge of the service provider network for applications that require near real-time analytics.

The latter scenario means traffic doesn't need to travel further than the edge of the provider access networks. This “edge computing” can not only help enterprise customers reduce cost and latency, but also enhances security by retaining sensitive data at the source or provider edge rather than sending them to the cloud.

The reduction in traffic volumes beyond provider edge would have significant implications on how providers architect their network, plan route capacities, manage traffic and improve network performance. And eliminating unacceptable service impacting latency, such as certain healthcare applications, or applications in sensitive environments like oil and gas production, can literally become a matter of life and death.

This application awareness requires that provider networks are easy to manage, flexible and agile so they can be dimensioned to support the distributed computing needs of enterprise customers. SD-WAN is an application aware approach that allows a service provider to pace its network transformation journey.

The transformational journey of network virtualization does not negate continued needs for investing in higher speed networks. Today’s backbone networks are already mostly running on fiber. Growth in edge computing is now propelling heightened investments in fiber access networks -- be it Ethernet, dedicated internet access, fiber-based broadband, or fiber front-haul for wireless access.

This is the story of AT&T too. Four years ago, we embarked on one of the most important journeys in the company’s history. We set out to transform our network from being hardware-dependent to software driven. In the meantime, AT&T continues to invest in expanding our fiber footprint to provide businesses of all sizes to realize the benefit of advanced technologies and communications services. Today, AT&T has over 1.1 million global route miles of fiber. More than 8 million business customer locations nationwide are either on or within 1,000 feet of our fiber (1). That’s more than 2x our nearest competitor, and we’re adding thousands more buildings each month. Built on the strength of AT&T as the largest US-based provider of fiber for business services, AT&T Wholesale aims to truly become a “carriers’ carrier”, with our full portfolio of wholesale solutions that service providers need to begin their own transformation journey.

Brendan Floyd serves as Vice President of Global Wholesale Solutions and has responsibility for leading a global organization of sales and technical professionals who provide a full portfolio of industry-leading telecommunication solutions to carriers, wireless providers, cable operators, and content providers in over 150 countries. Learn how AT&T Wholesale Solutions can help with your transformation journey.

(1) The 1.8 million U.S. business customer locations, in AT&T fiber-lit buildings, is included within the 8 million U.S. business customer locations on or within 1,000 feet of our fiber.