Cincinnati Bell’s Fiber Expansion will enable SD-WAN as a virtual network service

Cincinnati Bell’s bold three-year plan to expand its fiber networks will open the door for more opportunities to explore virtual network infrastructure, said Leigh Fox, COO of Cincinnati Bell, on December 6th during the UBS 44th Annual Global Media and Communications Conference.

“This project we just kicked off to look at this will be a 36 month or longer project,” Fox said. “As we build more fiber into our footprint, we also begin to hit thresholds where true network transformation is possible.”  Fox said that the first tangible benefit of the transformation could be to offer an SD-WAN service to business customers.

“In the short run something like SD-WAN is more of an opportunity from a product standpoint for us,” said COO Leigh Fox. “We’ll launch an SD-WAN product in April next year so we see more growth from a revenue standpoint.”

Fox said that while the provider has no immediate plans to extend fiber into new territories, SD-WAN and other cloud-based services could strengthen the telco’s bond with multi-site customers.

“From an enterprise standpoint, I think that’s where you get into SD-WAN or more network as a service NaaS-type products,” Fox said. “I don’t think that you have build network and the way the product innovations are going we can combine unique products to follow them anywhere.”

Comments (not from this author who’s a SD-WAN skeptic):

Any technology needs to focus on the business proposition. Here are a few points that I think are most important:

  1. The WAN is really expensive and often more than 70% of the IT network budget. Even a 10% reduction in WAN cost has a substantial impact on the bottom line.
  2. Typically 50% of WAN spending is unused or “zombie” bandwidth as it is wasted for redundancy. (Imagine having 50% of your employees sitting around waiting for something to do)
  3.  SD-WANs include such as cost of assets, remote administration, and cost of operation, but these two items are headline issues that need urgent solutions.

Concerns about SD-WAN Standards and Interoperability

Differentiation in Software Defined WAN