Bell Canada Partners selects Google Cloud to Deliver Next-Generation Network Experiences
Another major national telco has forged a significant relationship with a public cloud service provider to tap into the latter’s functionality and distributed cloud platform. Today, it’s Bell Canada and Google Cloud.
Bell Canad, Canada’s largest telecommunications company, and Google Cloud today announced a strategic partnership to power Bell’s company-wide digital transformation, enhance its network and IT infrastructure, and enable a more sustainable future. This new, multi-year partnership will combine Bell’s 5G network leadership with Google’s expertise in multi-cloud, data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI), to deliver next-generation experiences for Bell customers across Canada.
As a strategic technology partner, Google Cloud will enable Bell to drive operational efficiencies, increase network automation, and deliver richer customer experiences through the following initiatives:
- Shifting critical workloads to the cloud: By moving and modernizing IT infrastructure, network functions, and critical applications from on-premise to Google Cloud, Bell will be able to drive greater operational efficiencies and enable better application performance.
- Unlocking multicloud, next-generation network technology: With the combined power of Bell’s 5G network and Anthos, Google Cloud’s multicloud solution, Bell will deliver a consistent customer experience with greater automation and enhanced flexibility that scales with customer demand. The increased speed and bandwidth capacity of the Bell 5G network will support applications that can respond faster and handle greater volumes of data than previous generations of wireless technology.
- Leveraging the power of AI, data and analytics: Bell will leverage Google Cloud’s expertise in AI and big data to gain unique insights through real-time network data analytics that will enhance the customer experience, improve service assurance, and assist with network capacity planning.
- Joining forces on a sustainable future: Bell and Google share a common goal to run more sustainable businesses. As the cleanest cloud in the industry, Google Cloud will contribute to Bell’s target of achieving carbon neutral operations by 2025, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.
“We’re excited to partner with Google Cloud as part of our ongoing digital transformation and take Bell’s 5G network leadership to the next level,” said Mirko Bibic, CEO, BCE Inc. and Bell Canada. “Supporting Bell’s goal to advance how Canadians connect with each other and the world, Google’s proven expertise in cloud and leadership in sustainability will provide our customers with even faster, more reliable access to the best broadband network and communications services in Canada.”
“The acceleration of 5G has created new opportunities for industry leaders like Bell to redefine their business and create richer customer experiences,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO, Google Cloud. “We’re proud to partner with Bell to support their transformational shift to the cloud, and power a better network experience for people and businesses across Canada.”
As demands on mobile networks evolve and increase, Bell and Google Cloud will collaborate throughout the next decade on new innovations, including cloud solutions for enterprise customers and consumers powered by Google edge solutions, and enhanced customer service through automation and AI. In addition, the two companies will look at new ways to expand Bell’s existing partnership with Google to evolve the network experience and introduction of next-generation services across residential, mobile, and more.
Bell Canada says its relationship with Google Cloud will enable it to “drive operational efficiencies, increase network automation, and deliver richer customer experiences” through a number of initiatives, namely: Shifting multiple workloads from private systems to its partner’s platforms; leveraging “Google Cloud’s expertise in AI and big data to gain unique insights through real-time network data analytics that will enhance the customer experience, improve service assurance, and assist with network capacity planning; and combining the operator’s 5G connectivity with Anthos-hosted applications for an experience that “can respond faster and handle greater volumes of data than previous generations of wireless technology.”
They even squeezed a sustainability angle from the relationship, boasting that the collaboration would help the operator hit its target of achieving carbon neutral operations by 2025.
And this is just the start: The partners say they will “collaborate throughout the next decade on new innovations, including cloud solutions for enterprise customers and consumers powered by Google edge solutions, and enhanced customer service through automation and AI. In addition, the two companies will look at new ways to expand Bell’s existing partnership with Google to evolve the network experience and introduction of next-generation services across residential, mobile, and more.”
Like many network operators, Bell Canada is not monogamous in its public cloud relationships: Only weeks ago it announced it is teaming up with Amazon Web Services (AWS) for telco edge service developments and will integrate AWS Wavelength Zones into its 5G network in an effort to encourage developers to create new services, particularly low-latency applications that can take advantage of edge compute assets and 5G connectivity.
Same is true for Google Cloud- they have many relationship with many telecom service providers. Earlier this year, Google Cloud signed a 10-year deal with the Canadian telco Telus. Additionally, the cloud company extended its partnership with AT&T to offer edge computing and software tools to create 5G applications. As the growth of 5G and edge computing open up new economic opportunities, the major public cloud providers have been busy inking deals with CSPs and other players in the 5G ecosystem.
In addition to its new telco deals, Google recently announced a partnership with Intel to develop reference architectures and technologies that will accelerate the deployment of 5G and edge network solutions.
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“The goal here is to work with the carriers,” explained Sunay Tripathi, Google’s new director and head of products for telecom and the “distributed cloud edge.”
Tripathi, who spoke at a 5G Future Forum event here, typified the new trend: He cut his teeth at Sun Microsystems before helping to found software-defined networking company Pluribus Networks. For the past three years, he was the CTO of Deutsche Telekom’s MobiledgeX. According to his LinkedIn profile, he joined Google in July. “We are rearchitecting a lot of the underlying network, and that creates a lot of opportunity,” Tripathi explained.
Google, Microsoft and Amazon have long played in the telecom industry as software, IT and cloud suppliers. And like most modern enterprises across all industries, mobile network operators have increasingly pushed their IT operations into the public cloud.
But during the past two years, Google, Microsoft and Amazon have all begun developing cloud computing products specifically designed to host wireless providers’ network functions. Whether it’s Microsoft’s Azure for Operators or Google’s Anthos for Telecom, it’s intended to get network operators to put their crown jewels – their core network functions – into a hyperscale cloud.
And it’s something all three cloud companies are serious about, judging from their telecom hiring sprees or their acquisitions in the space. Microsoft, for example, last year spent an estimated $1.8 billion buying longtime telecom vendors Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch Networks.
New ideas and new disruption
According to analysts, the entry of the public cloud hyperscalers represents a major new strategic turn in the industry, considering network operators have historically retained tight control over their networking systems. And though most have been moving toward cloud technologies they own and operate, few have agreed to run their networking software in a public cloud operated by a hyperscaler.
“In outsourcing the infrastructure to cloud providers, telcos risk losing control of different aspects of their network and technology roadmap over the long term,” warned analyst Frank Rayal of Xona Partners in a post to his website titled “How telcos outsourced their brains.”
Nonetheless, there are increasing indications that operators around the world are more than open to the idea. “The technologies that we will build [with the cloud] will let others consume our network,” explained Luciano Ramos, SVP of network development, planning and engineering for Rogers Comunications in Canada.
Indeed, AT&T recently announced it would transition its 5G core network operations into Microsoft’s cloud over the next three years. And Dish Network plans to run all of its network operations in the Amazon Web Services cloud.
According to Rakuten’s outspoken mobile chief, Tareq Amin, it’s ultimately necessary. He said he designed Rakuten’s mobile network in Japan to natively run in the cloud, and that it required a major shift in his team’s thinking. “I wanted to pick the right mentality” when staffing up Rakuten Mobile, he said. “It was easier to deploy cloud because the Rakuten people wanted to be open to new ideas,” he said. “They were open to new ideas and new disruption.”
Amin made his comments during a keynote address at the MWC LA show here. He made sure to point out that Rakuten Mobile in Japan now counts around 5 million customers, and boasts leading network metrics. It was essentially Amin’s victory lap after announcing his plan to build such a network just a few years ago, at the MWC Barcelona show in 2019.
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