Meet the CTOs in wireless: AT&T’s Andre Fuetsch

AT&T’s Andre Fuetsch

This story is part of a broader Meet the CTOs feature that introduces all of the major network operator CTOs across the wireless, telecom and cable industries. To read about top network CTOs from other companies, click here.

Who he is: As the President of AT&T Labs and the CTO, Andre Fuetsch is responsible for delivering the architecture and design of AT&T’s future network. Fuetsch is an AT&T veteran; he joined the company in 1995. Fuetsch holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of California, Berkeley. He also completed core coursework for the Computer Science Master’s program at Stanford University.

Where he is: Fuetsch leads a team of over 2,000 engineers and computer scientists working on programs encompassing both the business and mass market customer segments. Fuetsch reports to John Donovan, Chief Strategy Officer and Group President of AT&T Technology and Operations. Enrique Rodriguez is AT&T’s Entertainment Group CTO, handling video delivery and what happens inside the home.

And Fuetsch’s role at AT&T has continued to expand in recent years. In 2014, Fuetsch took over the reins of AT&T’s Domain 2.0 initiative from veteran executive Marian Croak, who retired after 32 years with the company.

What he’s doing: Fuetsch’s role is far reaching as he oversees the global technology direction for AT&T’s wireline and wireless technologies. His responsibilities span network planning, the company’s innovation road map, AT&T Labs, AT&T Foundry, and the intellectual property organization.

With an eye towards emerging wireless technology, AT&T continues to work to expand and bolster its wireless network. Specifically, the carrier continues to introduce new technologies (two- and three-carrier aggregation) and techniques (small cells and other densification efforts) alongside new spectrum bands like AWS-3 and WCS.

AT&T is also playing in a range of associated fields, from operating a network of public Wi-Fi hotspots to testing fixed wireless local loop services to deploying IoT-focused services and pricing through its deployment of LTE M technology.

And like its rivals, AT&T is working in the toll-free data space with promises to zero-rate its forthcoming DirecTV Now service for AT&T’s wireless customers. Already AT&T offers an unlimited data service to its existing DirecTV customers; more than 6.7 million customers have signed up to that offering. Such offerings likely will continue to stress the network that Fuetsch has been charged with expanding and fortifying.

But it’s Fuetsch’s role in the evolution of SDN and NFV that really sets his work apart. Driven by the implementation of software-defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), Domain 2.0 is the model by which AT&T will emulate the functions pieces of hardware like routers and switches with software, and run that software on standard, off-the-shelf hardware. AT&T’s software-centric network is controlled and powered by ECOMP (Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management, and Policy). The service provider has set an ambitious goal to virtualize 75 percent of its network by 2020.

Of course, Fuetsch is also tasked with coordinating all this work into AT&T’s move toward 5G technology. Already, the operator held its first public demonstration of 5G technology with vendor partner Ericsson, showcasing what’s possible with millimeter wave radio technology. Similar to what AT&T has seen its 5G lab trials, the carrier showed off how millimeter wave wireless can reach speeds near 14 Gbps.

While it’s going to take time to see how these initiatives pan out, it’s clear that Fuetsch is leading efforts that are going to change how consumers and businesses communicate with one another.