SD-WAN and Underlay Networks: Overcoming Costly Broadband Ordering Challenges

March 24th, 2023 by · Leave a Comment

By John Denemark, SVP and GM, Carrier Provisioning, TransUnion

A growing number of enterprises are using software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) to deliver the capacity and agility required in today’s complex, diverse networks to support technologies such as cloud services, mobility, edge computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT). As a result, SD-WAN is experiencing significant growth and creating increased demand for Broadband access.

However, SD-WAN functionality is only as good as the underlying network required to power and unify communications. Unfortunately, the buying and selling of wholesale Broadband between carriers for these underlying networks is both inefficient and time-consuming, often hindering the revenue opportunity for Communications Service Providers (CSPs).

Legacy telecom tools and systems just weren’t designed to handle the challenges involved in ordering wholesale Broadband.  CSPs are struggling to keep pace, especially when supplying connectivity to off-net locations. There’s no standardized, automated method for purchasing wholesale Broadband, resulting in a highly inefficient and time-consuming ordering process.

New solutions can help CSPs address the growing demand for SD WAN, and Broadband – while meeting the inherent challenges.

More about the demand for SD-WAN

Research firm, Markets and Markets, states that the global SD-WAN market is expected to grow from USD 1.9 billion in 2020 to USD 8.4 billion by 2025, a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 34.5%.

Factors driving this growth include:

  • The vast increase in the number of at-home workers
  • Rapid adoption of cloud services
  • Additional capacity and agility to address business requirements
  • A need to continually reduce operational and network costs

Each SD-WAN operates over one or more underlay networks that unify communications between user sites. These underlay networks can include a variety of connectivity services, such as Ethernet, IP services, and public Internet services, with access provided through various technologies such as DSL, HFC, LTE, and fiber.

In SD-WAN/SASE architecture, SD-WAN provides critical networking functionality, while SASE unites SD-WAN with other network and security services to provide a WAN connectivity and security ecosystem. Since true SASE architecture requires end-to-end automation and orchestration, it is important that service providers employ end-to-end automation to deliver on-demand services to customers. This includes automating the delivery of Broadband.  Those who are unable to do this risk falling behind the competition. 

The trickle-down impact on Broadband ordering

Enterprises expect instant access to connectivity, but no service provider network covers every location. When service is needed outside a provider’s network, they must work with other providers to supply Broadband to all customer locations. For example, if an internet service provider has an enterprise customer with hundreds of locations, there might be 50, 100, or more that fall outside their network footprint. 

Key Challenges to Ordering Wholesale Broadband

  • Identifying the right options in a market of thousands of fixed in-ground and fixed-wireless suppliers
  • Obtaining complete quotes without having to reach out to suppliers manually
  • Turning quotes into orders in a format each supplier understands
  • Automating order status tracking to reduce phone calls and emails
  • Opening and managing trouble tickets
  • Analyzing whether suppliers are complying with contracted terms
  • Tracking circuit inventory and managing critical dates
  • Working in separate systems and pivoting from one to another

Finding which providers serve the right locations with the right services at the right price can be an enormous challenge. When placing orders, each supplier has its own unique set of standards, terminology, order formats, delivery schedules, and procedures, making the process complex and time-consuming with challenges that can result in order fallout.

Inefficient legacy systems and processes are creating huge bottlenecks and delays. Our experience has shown that it can take 7+ weeks for service to be delivered and 15% of orders canceled due to missing or inaccurate data. Plus, service provider wholesale divisions can spend up to 40% of their time handling customer inquiries from carriers who want updates about service order progress.


In a Neustar survey, when asked what area related to Broadband sourcing they are most challenged with today, service providers said the following:

  • Eighty-six percent of respondents rated their challenges in the following order:
  • Managing partner serviceability and cost
  • Accessing and comparing competitive quotes
  • Finding ideal suppliers

When asked how important it is to simplify and automate the Broadband ordering process for their organization, 92 percent said it was somewhat or very important to do so.

The future hinges on automation

Grand View Research has valued the global Broadband services market size at USD 385.5 billion in 2021 and projects the market to expand at a 9.6% CAGR from 2022 to 2030. Driving this growth is the digitalization of several industry verticals that require Broadband services such as increasing online retail commerce, digitalization of hospital records, and e-government initiatives. 

As industries experience more software-controlled service chains, networks will become even more complex, evolving beyond networks-as-a-service to slices of networks-as-a-service. If one thinks buying and selling individual Broadband connections is a challenge, the impact of purchasing end-to-end slices from dozens of networks will take that challenge to a whole new level.  To profitably meet current and future demands for Broadband, operators must have cost-effective, time-saving tools to automate the ordering process.

How to transform Broadband ordering

SD-WAN is only as good as the underlying networks that supply the connectivity for their site-to-site communications. These deployments cannot be completed until the underlay networks are functioning.

Modernization efforts need to ensure that all Broadband circuits are operational according to the required terms and timeline while offering functions that help CSPs, and other providers.  At a minimum, these functions should

  • Find suppliers with a click of a button
  • Support all wholesale access technologies and order types from one platform
  • Obtain supplier quotes instantly and eliminate delays leading to lost business
  • Reduce duplication and order entry errors
  • Auto-populate standard data fields to speed order submission
  • Increase immediate order visibility and automatic order tracking
  • Improve decision making with advanced analytics and reporting


John Denemark is a dynamic leader with 20 years of experience leading the Carrier Provisioning business for Neustar, which is now TransUnion, including a complete suite of automated products and services addressing carriers’ off-net provisioning needs.

Solutions like TruContact® Universal Order Connect (UOC), Powered by Neustar®, are available to help CSPs start their digital transformation, and automate processes so they can overcome costly challenges and give enterprises the capacity, agility, and secure application performance they need for today’s customers. Visit our wholesale connectivity resource center to learn more.

Note: This information is not legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice. While efforts have been made to compile helpful information, this information is not represented to be complete or wholly accurate, and any third-party trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

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Categories: Internet Backbones · SDN

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