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AT&T is making a rather nerdy announcement Tuesday about "white box" networking gear, but it's actually a rather big deal. Last week, the company started putting real network traffic onto hardware that it put together from a variety of chip, hardware and software partners. The test network gear comes in a couple flavors and was placed in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Who is involved: AT&T is working with a tiny software start-up SnapRoute, which was started by a bunch of ex-Apple employees. Chip partners include Barefoot Networks, Broadcom, and Intel, while units of Delta Electronics and Edgecore Networks assembled the gear to AT&T's specifications.

Who is on the outside looking in: Traditional network gear makers Cisco and Juniper Networks aren't part of this and risk losing out on some serious business down the road unless they get a lot cheaper and more open, as this opens the door for AT&T to make its own networking gear.

Why it matters: Not only can white box gear be a lot cheaper to install, support and service, but AT&T also has far greater visibility into what's going on inside. With the test gear, AT&T executives say they can literally see what is happening with each packet of data, allowing for greater security as well as potentially opening the door to new lines of business. AT&T CTO Andre Fuetsch compared the increased visibility to the difference between an X-Ray and an MRI.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
3 hours ago - Health

Pfizer CEO feels "liberated" after taking COVID vaccine

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla tells "Axios on HBO" that he recently received his first of two doses of the company's coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: Bourla told CNBC in December that company polling found that one of the most effective ways to increase confidence in the vaccine was to have the CEO take it.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Ripple CEO: SEC lawsuit is "bad for crypto" in the U.S.

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse tells "Axios on HBO" that if his company loses a lawsuit brought by U.S. regulators, it would put the country at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to cryptocurrencies.

Between the lines: The SEC in December sued Ripple, and Garlinghouse personally, for allegedly selling over $1.3 billion in unregistered securities. Ripple's response is that its cryptocurrency, called XRP, didn't require registration because it's an asset rather than a security.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
3 hours ago - Health

Pfizer CEO: "It will be terrible" if COVID-19 vaccine prices limit access

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told "Axios on HBO" that it "will be terrible for society" if the price of coronavirus vaccines ever prohibits some people from taking them.

Why it matters: Widespread uptake of the vaccine — which might require annual booster shots — will reduce the risk of the virus continuing to spread and mutate, but it's unclear who will pay for future shots or how much they'll cost.