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Charter Communications hinted at its plans to debut a software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) platform as part of its enterprise product mix, during the company’s third quarter earnings call with investors last week.

Thomas Rutledge, Charter’s CEO and chairman, did not give any specific timelines or details of the SD-WAN release. Rutledge merely stated, “In the coming months, we expect to launch a software-defined wide-area network solution that should increase our addressable opportunity and provide businesses with another choice as the migrate from legacy technologies,” according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the call.

Earlier this month at the SCTE-ISBE Cable Tec Expo in Denver, John Dickinson, VP of advanced commercial engineering at Charter, spoke at a Light Reading breakfast titled “Virtualizing the Cable Architecture.” He said that Charter was ready to deploy and engage with more virtualization technologies. “Being a fast follower has been beneficial to the cable industry,” said Dickinson. “It’s becoming more timing for us to engage and how to deploy this.”

He noted that network transformation begins with automation and broadening current skills as the industry becomes more software centric. He went on to list technologies the company is looking at first, including cloud DVR, vFirewalls, vRouters, threat managers, and virtualized customer premises equipment.

Comcast’ SD-WAN

The cable industry has been slow to move toward virtualization. Charter is only the second major cable company to announce SD-WAN. Comcast announced its SD-WAN play in May. Comcast chose Versa Networks’ SD-WAN technology to begin to replace MPLS and allow its enterprise clients to build virtual private connections to their applications at data centers and public clouds. Comcast’s SD-WAN will operate on a universal CPE (uCPE), serving as both a firewall and SD-WAN router.

Meanwhile, U.S. telcos have been quicker to deploy SD-WAN, including AT&T, Verizon, and CenturyLink.

At the Cable-Tec Expo breakfast Dickinson said, “There’s not much difference between us and the telcos.”

SDxCentral Managing Editor Linda Hardesty contributed to this report.

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