New service can scale bandwidth for peak and off-peak periods via an online portal

broadband-attA new network service from AT&T is giving customers the ability to scale their bandwidth up or down in near real time using an online portal, without having to make expensive network upgrades.

The service could be particularly useful for school districts, allowing them to add bandwidth during high-use periods such as online testing—while reducing network capacity when school is not in session.

“We’re making networks more dynamic and more responsive to customers’ needs,” said Rupesh Chokshi, director of the service, called Network on Demand.

The service combines software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies to create what AT&T calls an on-demand networking capability, allowing customers to request—and pay for—only the capacity they need, and to adjust these settings easily on the fly.

SDN is an approach to networking that separates the system making decisions about where and how traffic is sent (the control plane) from the underlying systems that forward traffic to the selected destination (the data plane). This enables network administrators to shape traffic on the network, without having to touch individual networking gear such as switches, routers, and multiplexers—letting them deliver services to wherever they are needed with a highly granular level of control.

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