Cable MSOs Charge Ahead With SD-WAN, Address Need for Hybrid Deployments

For cable MSOs, software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) represents a potentially transformative technology in the quest to better serve enterprise customers, with virtualized functions as a foundation. This technology “is a golden opportunity to add a cutting-edge product to their business services and support strategies to move up market by serving larger companies and multi-site enterprises,” said Heavy Reading contributing analyst Craig Leddy, in a Light Reading article

Operators like Comcast and Cox Communications see SD-WAN—in combination with DOCSIS 3.1—as more affordable and flexible than MPLS, and a means to expand services using their existing coaxial connections for gigabit internet speeds, rather than relying on fiber, Leddy noted. 

He added: “The market is expected to be flooded with SD-WAN products and related VNFs that cable can support with its high-speed business Internet services. All service providers and SD-WAN suppliers face a market where competition is becoming fierce and the pace of SD-WAN adoption is unclear. Cable providers must prove they can deliver a high quality of service and customer support — areas where they currently are not perceived as leaders in rankings by business customers.”

But, most businesses still aren’t using SD-WAN services to replace private MPLS-based links, noted Light Reading editor-at-large Carol Wilson in a recent article. Instead, they need solutions for a hybrid approach that allows them to add SD-WAN options to existing links, and run services across both. 

“Managing traffic and implementing policy in such a hybrid approach introduces complexity that many businesses don’t want,” Wilson elaborated. 

Addressing this need, CenturyLink recently rolled out a set of managed service bundles designed to eliminate the complexity of such hybrid deployments, Wilson said in the article. 

CenturyLink’s SD-WAN offerings come in three bundle packages: bronze (add-on to existing MPLS connection), silver (MPLS and broadband connection provided by CenturyLink), and gold (same as silver, with two SD-WAN devices at the remote site), explained RCR Wireless News technology writer Nathan Cranford, in a recent article

Comcast is another operator that’s putting a lot of thought into the best uses for and methods of deploying SD-WAN for enterprises. In a recent SDxCentral webinar, Comcast Business’ VP of Connectivity Jeff Lewis elaborated on its reasons for treating SD-WAN as an over-the-top (OTT) cloud-based service, embracing such a strategy for its robustness and extensibility. 

Successful SD-WAN, Lewis explained in the webinar, is all about execution and customer satisfaction, which requires monitoring as a key component to avoid network-wide visibility drawbacks that MPLS tends to suffer from. And, as already discussed earlier, he noted that SD-WAN is likely to deployed as part of a hybrid migration alongside MPLS. 

How do you see SD-WAN being adopted by enterprises? Drop a comment below. 

In her role as Senior Marketing Writer at Accedian, Mae blogs, manages social media strategy, and produces a variety of collateral focused on thought leadership around telecom industry news and trends. She has more than 15 years of journalism and marketing experience, covering business-to-business technology, including telecom, for a variety of organizations including and Ziff Davis. Mae holds a B.A. in communications from Thomas Edison State College.

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  • Acronym Guide

    327 Terms, Page 1 of 82


    Second Generation
    A cellular telecom network that uses second-generation wireless technology. Such networks digitally encrypt phone conversations, and allow data services including SMS text messages.


    Third Generation
    A cellular network that uses third-generation wireless technology based on standards that support wireless voice telephony, mobile and fixed internet access, video calls, and mobile TV. Such networks are capable of data transfer rates of at least 200 Kbps and as fast as 21 Mbps.


    Third Generation Partnership Project
    International collaboration among telecommunications associations, with the purpose of developing and maintaining the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) specification for 3G mobile networks.


    Fourth Generation
    A cellular network that uses fourth generation wireless technology to deliver mobile broadband internet access in addition to voice and text messaging. Two synonymous 4G systems are commercially deployed: Mobile WiMAX an Long Term Evolution (LTE). LTE is the predominant system in the U.S.

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