“There’s nothing like it;” AWS CEO announces Private 5G at AWS re-Invent 2021; Dish Network’s endorsement
Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Adam Selipsky kicked off day 2 of AWS re-Invent 2021 today with a keynote presentation loaded with exciting announcements, status updates, and long-term vision-setting for the AWS cloud platform. AWS is now in its 15th year. It currently has 81 Availability Zones, 250+ services, 475 instance types to support virtually any workload. And it has an always-evolving library of solutions designed for highly specific use cases.
The AWS cloud stores more than 3 trillion objects, AWS offers over 200 fully-featured services, with millions of customers around the world,” the CEO said. Of those customers, Netflix, NASA and NTT DoCoMo are highlighted as some of the most innovative use cases for AWS.
“In the last 15 years, cloud has become not just another tech revolution, but a shift in how businesses actually function. There’s no business that can’t be radically disrupted. And we’re just getting started,” Selipsky added, noting that only 5-15% of spending has moved to the cloud, so there’s a big opportunity to come, with 5G and IoT becoming super important too.
“We’re going to keep innovating to keep offering the broadest suite of services,” Selipsky said.
The most import announcement for IEEE Techblog readers was a new AWS Private 5G service that will allow users to launch and manage their own private mobile network in days with automatic configuration, no per-device charges, and shared spectrum operation. AWS provides all the hardware, software, and SIMs needed for Private 5G, making it a one-stop solution that is the first of its kind.
“It’s not easy to set up a private 5G network using offerings from existing 5G providers, according to AWS CEO. “Currently, private mobile network deployments require customers to invest considerable time, money and effort to design their network for anticipated peak capacity, and procure and integrate software and hardware components from multiple vendors. Even if customers are able to get the network running, current private mobile network pricing models charge for each connected device and make it cost prohibitive for use cases that involve thousands of connected devices.”
Selipsky said AWS customers will be able to select where they want to build a mobile network and the network capacity they need. AWS will then deliver and maintain the network’s necessary small cell radio units, servers, 5G core and radio access network (RAN) software, and subscriber identity modules (SIM cards) required for a private 5G network and its connected devices.
“AWS Private 5G automates the setup and deployment of the network and scales capacity on demand to support additional devices and increased network traffic,” the company explained, noting the network will work in “shared spectrum,” likely a reference to the 3.5GHz CBRS spectrum band in the U.S. “There are no upfront fees or per-device costs with AWS Private 5G, and customers pay only for the network capacity and throughput they request.”
“It’s (AWS Private 5G) shockingly easy,” according to Selipsky – AWS sends everything you need, from hardware to software to SIM cards. Automatic configuration makes it ideal for factories and workplaces, and you can ask for as many devices to be connected as you need. He added that the company will sell the service under a pay-as-you-go model, and won’t add any per-device fees. “There’s nothing like AWS Private 5G network out there,” the CEO concluded.
“Many of our customers want to leverage the power of 5G to establish their own private networks on premises, but they tell us that the current approaches make it time-consuming, difficult, and expensive to set up and deploy private networks,” said David Brown, Vice President, EC2 at AWS in a press release. “With AWS Private 5G, we’re extending hybrid infrastructure to customers’ 5G networks to make it simple, quick, and inexpensive to set up a private 5G network. Customers can start small and scale on-demand, pay as they go, and monitor and manage their network from the AWS console.”
Dell’Oro Group’s VP Dave Bolan wrote in an email, “What is new about this announcement, is that we have a new Private Wireless Network vendor (AWS) with very deep pockets that could become a major force in this market segment.”
Immediately after Selipsky keynote speech, Dish Network’s Chief Network Officer Marc Rouanne took the re-Invent stage to tout his own company’s forthcoming 5G network. [Note that AWS is providing the 5G SA cloud native core network for Dish]. Rouanne, touted the appeal of Dish’s planned (but delayed) 5G network for enterprise customers. He said Dish is building a “network of networks” that enterprise customers will be able to adapt to their needs. He said Dish’s 5G customers will be able to customize their services based on parameters such as speed and latency, but didn’t mention that’s based on network slicing which requires the 5G SA core network that Dish has outsourced to AWS.
“Some say we are the AWS of wireless,” Rouanne said, adding that Dish’s 5G will be as flexible as the cloud computing service built by Amazon. “Dish is going to be the enabler of technology that people have not even imagined yet.”
“We’re building the first architecture that is truly optimized for the cloud. It promises tremendous advances, not just for human communications, but also for machine to machine, and of course for humans to control those machines,” he added.
We have previously expressed skepticism that Dish can be an effective telecom/IT systems integrator with no experience whatsoever in that field. We wrote:
Dish said it would use Cisco for routing, IBM for automation, Spirent for testing and Equinix for interconnections – announcements noteworthy considering Dish is mere weeks from its first market launch. The ability to automatically, virtually and in parallel test new 5G Standalone services, slices and software updates in the cloud is key to Dish Network’s network strategy and its differentiation, according to Marc Rouanne, Dish EVP and chief network officer for its wireless business. Rouanne said that the ability to rapidly test and certify network software and services has been part of Dish’s vision for its network. Dish announced more than a year ago that it would use radio management software from both Mavenir and Altiostar, when Rakuten was a major investor in Altiostar (it now owns that company).
–>So it seams that Dish Network’s 5G role will be that of a systems integrator, putting together the many outsourced parts of its 5G greenfield network. It remains to be seen what combination of vendors will supply the Open RAN portion of the 5G network and what development, if any, Dish’s engineers will do for it. And how will Dish’s 5G SA core network via AWS interface with those Open RAN vendors?
In the previously referenced press release from AWS, Stephen Bye, Chief Commercial Officer, DISH said, “Selecting AWS has enabled us to onboard and scale our 5G core network functions within the cloud. They are a key strategic partner in helping us deliver private enterprise networks to our customers. AWS’s innovative platform allows us to better serve our consumer wireless customers, while unlocking new business models for enterprise customers across a wide range of industry verticals. Our ability to support dedicated, private 5G enterprise networks allows us to give customers the scale, resilience and security needed to support a wide variety of devices and services, unlocking the potential of Industry 4.0.”
In conclusion, it looks like the AWS Private 5G network (where Amazon provides the 5G RAN and 5G core) will compete with Dish’s 5G network (where Dish provides the RAN while AWS provides the 5G SA core network) for industrial customers. In that sense, it is a win-win proposition for Amazon as AWS will be competing with AWS (hah, hah!) for the 5G SA core network. It’s also significant that these announcements strengthened the trend to use 5G for industry/factory applications rather than for consumers where there is little or no benefits.
All in all, it send a strong competitive signal to wireless telcos that they’ll be competing with cloud hyperscalers as well as network equipment and software companies in the 5G private network market.
About Amazon Web Services:
For over 15 years, Amazon Web Services has been the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud offering. AWS has been continually expanding its services to support virtually any cloud workload, and it now has more than 200 fully featured services for compute, storage, databases, networking, analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), mobile, security, hybrid, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), media, and application development, deployment, and management from 81 Availability Zones (AZs) within 25 geographic regions, with announced plans for 27 more Availability Zones and nine more AWS Regions in Australia, Canada, India, Indonesia, Israel, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates. Millions of customers—including the fastest-growing startups, largest enterprises, and leading government agencies—trust AWS to power their infrastructure, become more agile, and lower costs. To learn more about AWS, visit aws.amazon.com.
Dish Network as systems integrator; will use Rakuten Symphony’s observability framework in its 5G network
Analysis of Dish Network – AWS partnership to build 5G Open RAN cloud native network
9 thoughts on ““There’s nothing like it;” AWS CEO announces Private 5G at AWS re-Invent 2021; Dish Network’s endorsement”
Why AWS’s move into private 5G networking is game-changing
As the cost of SIM-connected devices decreases and eSIMs become more common, the industry could see a big move from Wi-Fi to 5G.
One of the notable announcements at Amazon Web Services’ re:Invent 2021 conference today was the unveiling of AWS Private 5G, a fully-managed service enabling businesses to deploy their own high-capacity mobile networks. The service is designed to be used inside buildings as an augmentation of — and eventual replacement for — Wi-Fi.
Customers can provision as many 5G connected devices as they want, they will only pay for the bandwidth they use. The traditional pricing model would be a per-SIM fee, but that can be highly inefficient for IoT because many devices use very little bandwidth. For example, a connected industrial copier might only send toner volumes once a day. With a per-month cost model, the business may be paying $10 per month. With capacity pricing, this cloud costs as little as a couple of cents a day.
During his first re:Invent keynote as CEO, AWS’s Adam Selipsky talked about the importance of this approach. “AWS Private 5G is a one-stop shop to manage private cellular networks,” Selipsky said. “It lets customers start small and scale up as needed with a pay-as-you-go pricing model. You just pop the SIM cards into your devices and, voila, everything is connected.”
As is the case with most AWS technologies, one of the first customers is Amazon itself. The Private 5G service is used in the Amazon Fulfillment Centers (FCs) to speed up product delivery.
AWS Cloud WAN preview: a global network that spans multiple physical networks and geographic locations
AT&T CEO John Stankey acknowledged that his sales team could eventually run into the Amazon Web Services (AWS) sales team in the private 5G arena at some point in the future.
“Can we begin to move down market and offer more economical solutions that might meet the needs of the similar area where Amazon is trying to play? It’s possible,” Stankey said this week at an investor event, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. “But right now, we’ve got our hands full kind of at the upper end of the market.”
AWS CEO Adam Selipsky described the company’s new Private 5G network as “shockingly easy” to use.
In response to questions on AWS’ Private 5G, AT&T’s Stankey said that he believes Amazon is targeting smaller enterprise customers looking for an alternative to Wi-Fi. He said AT&T, meanwhile, is offering its own private wireless services to larger enterprises that need nationwide coverage options. “I don’t think we have a scaled enough and simple enough offer in that space right now at this point,” he said.
Similarly, Verizon’s Hans Vestberg said that his own company’s private 5G products leverage integrated technologies and licensed spectrum. He suggested that’s not something AWS is offering. And Vestberg also said Verizon could work with AWS in the private 5G arena, and therefore doesn’t view the company as a direct competitor.
Indeed, the analysts at Analysys Mason argued in a recent post that wireless network operators in general should view AWS Private 5G as a channel they can use to expand their own sales. After all, they calculated that US operators are the primary contractors on fewer than 10% of private networks.
“Cellular network operators are often behind in the roll-out of private network capabilities, which has allowed other providers to step into the role,” agreed the analysts at Juniper Research in their own post. “The most successful players here are network vendors with equipment channels that they can use as an entry point into the market.”
Juniper Research ranked Nokia, Ericsson and Druid Software as key leaders within the private networks sector. Thus, they may be companies most directly affected by the new private 5G offering from AWS.
“It’s not fully baked,” said Daryl Schoolar, research director of worldwide telecommunications at IDC. “I think they’re very open to taking it wherever it will go.”
Although AWS emphasized initial plans to use unlicensed spectrum for a fully private service, it could also resell access to an operator’s spectrum, or let some operators resell the AWS service, Schoolar explained.
“From my discussion with them, they aren’t locked into unlicensed spectrum. It’s just a place to start,” he said. “Licensed spectrum is key because not every market has unlicensed spectrum.”
Mobile network operators have long coveted a greater role and share of the enterprise market. The arrival of 5G, combined with an uptick of enterprises deploying private networks running on cellular infrastructure, provided an opportunity to break into the space.
Operators come to the table with core strengths in network infrastructure, deployment, and management. AWS, of course, provides enterprises the familiar cloud model with pay-as-you-go pricing based on consumption.
This means enterprises “don’t have to buy a bunch of capacity on the core or on the network functions until they actually need it. So it should make it more economical to scale up, instead of investing in some hardened solution where you’re locked into capacity and features,” Schoolar said.
AWS Private 5G customers will pay a monthly fee based on network capacity and throughput, according to Analysys Mason. “There are no per-device fees, nor are there upfront fees, unlike for other services that typically have both a capex and an opex element. The cost of the network equipment is covered in the monthly charge,” the analysts wrote.
Because private networks are relatively new and enterprises aren’t sure how or where they’ll be used, this cloud-centric and network as an application model provides AWS with some advantages, Schoolar added. “Instead of buying all the infrastructure and having all that sunk cost, you can buy it as a service.”
While wireless carriers view private networks as a significant opportunity, Analysys Mason notes operators’ role in the market has been limited thus far. Operators are the primary contractors on fewer than 10% of private networks in the U.S., and less than a third of private network contracts worldwide, according to the market research firm.
“The AWS announcement may affect future revenue for operators, but it does not threaten their existing business,” the analysts concluded.
AT&T, Verizon CEOs Dismiss AWS Private 5G
That explains Vestberg and Stankey’s muted reaction to AWS Private 5G.
“It’s an add-on that they have. We can be part of it if we want to. We see it’s much stronger when you have licensed spectrum than shared spectrum,” Vestberg said at the UBS Global TMT Virtual Conference.
“It is a broken out sort of cloud offering, but ultimately what we are doing is an integrated solution which we think is far more interesting for customers,” he added.
Stankey highlighted two factors that he believes are contributing to growing enterprise adoption of private networks: 5G infrastructure performs better than WiFi in many instances, and the capabilities built into 5G software and infrastructure provide unique opportunities for businesses to grow.
“I don’t think somebody building around a network with CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) spectrum, and a thin spectrum portfolio, and regionally oriented networks is going to be good enough over time,” Stankey said at the same event.
“You need a strong national network. You need strong fiber capillaries to be able to pair it with,” he said. “That’s the card we need to play over the next couple of years, and I think we can win as a result of that.”
If Amazon decides to partner with U.S. carriers on this effort and use their licensed spectrum, it will have to use radios approved by each respective operator, Schoolar noted.
“AWS itself is going to want to walk a fine line because they want to grow relationships with carriers. So going out and competing head-to-head with them, I’m not really sure how much AWS wants to do that,” he said.
“I don’t think AWS sees this as a way to circumvent operators, except for possibly when it comes down to fully private spectrum and every part is truly private,” Schoolar added.
Someone Always Loses, But Who?
Nonetheless, because AWS commands so much power and influence, the cloud giant is bound to negatively impact some businesses when it enters a new market. Analysys Mason expects AWS Private 5G to have more significant repercussions for network equipment vendors than telecom operators.
Most vendors don’t have the resources to replicate AWS’ packaged service, particularly with edge and cloud computing capabilities, the analysts explained.
Schoolar takes a different view, although much remains to be seen. “I think probably operators could have the most to lose,” he said, adding that AWS could pit operators against one another by going exclusive with one operator per market.
To that same point, T-Mobile US, which doesn’t have a large enterprise business today, could benefit the most from AWS Private 5G considering its share of the market today, Schoolar explained.
Finally, Dish Network holds a wild card in all of this, at least in the U.S. “If and when Dish ever gets up and gets rolling,” it could become a strong channel partner for AWS Private 5G, he said. Indeed, Dish Network was one of two partners mentioned in Amazon’s press release for the service.
One of the findings of a new report from Light Reading sister company Omdia: 2022 Trends to Watch: Private Networks and the Shadow of 5G:
More than 90% of enterprises that are looking to deploy a private network in the next two years are considering 5G as the main technology for their deployments.
Pablo Tomasi, principal analyst of private networks in Omdia’s service provider enterprise and wholesale practice – and the report’s author – nonetheless warned CSPs it won’t all be plain sailing.
While the “hype of 5G” will get CSPs in the door with enterprises, he said, they’ve still got it all to prove in terms of delivery and meeting enterprises’ expectations.
“CSPs have many challenges that they need to face to make an impact in this market,” Tomasi told Light Reading. “Among others, they need to stop talking about 5G as the fix to solve all problems and start talking about addressing an enterprise pain-point with a solution based on whatever technology is more suitable.”
Tomasi emphasized that CSPs should be pragmatic in their technology recommendations, whether it be private LTE or private 5G, or even an alternative technology.
“They also need to accelerate their investment in their private networks teams and decide how they want to gain vertical expertise, which is essential for targeting vertical markets,” said Tomasi.
CSPs, he said, will have to weigh up the pros and cons of an in-house versus a partnership approach to build up private-network teams with the necessary know-how.
Although none of the enterprises currently surveyed by Omdia have deployed private networks to cover more than 10 sites, Tomasi thinks this will change in the next couple of years with 6% of enterprises aiming to deploy in more than 11 sites.
Enterprises currently prefer private network deployments that are fully dedicated, both in the RAN and the core, but Tomasi observes a “clear shift” in enterprises’ planning towards hybrid solutions involving a mixture of private and public networks.
“This plays directly into the hands of the CSPs that are increasingly deploying and expanding their private 5G networks,” said Tomasi, “but CSPs must ride this trend carefully as their first order of business is still gaining the trust of the enterprise and of the [wider] ecosystem.”
How successful CSPs might be in the private network space is not entirely in their own hands. Awarding highly localized spectrum to enterprises – a trend already seen in Germany – poses a “significant threat” to CSPs in Tomasi’s view.
“Spectrum liberalization is dangerous for [CSPs], because if providing spectrum to the enterprise works then regulators all over the world will be encouraged to continue this trend.” Tomasi told Light Reading.
“This will affect how much spectrum will be available for CSPs as well as the ability for other players, such as vendors and system integrators. to directly serve enterprises’ connectivity needs.”
Hyperscalers with their global scale are encroaching on the international and global aspects of the telecoms industry. Cloud brings a new means of delivering many services into both the CSPs themselves as well as business es and individuals. Hyperscalers are extending their reach ever closer to the customers, potentially squeezing the role of the connectivity providers. CSPs, on the other hand, have the hyper-local granularity to serve everyone and everything. As CSPs rationalise their own infrastructure they are benefiting from the Hyperscalers scale and skills to make themselves more attractive to the end user markets. Does this end in a Mexican stand-off, global political manoeuvring or national pride? Can they play nicely together in the digital sandpit or will it end in tears?
Pablo Tomasi, principal analyst of private networks for Omdia, joins the podcast to share key findings from his latest report, 2022 Trends to Watch: Private Networks and the Shadow of 5G. Tomasi explains that while the topic of 5G may give service providers a “marketing hook” when discussing private network options with enterprise customers, 4G LTE may provide all the razzle dazzle enterprises need in the near term.
“Everyone wants to talk about 5G, however, let’s be honest, 2022 will not be the year of 5G for private networks,” says Tomasi. “5G will play an increasingly important role, but despite what everyone wants, this won’t be the year of 5G. What we still see in the market is that private LTE is a good enough technology to address the majority of the use cases. There are still a lot of uncertainties regarding what private 5G can do that LTE cannot deliver.”
Tomasi discusses which connectivity issues enterprises hope to address through private networks, other demand drivers such better visibility into the workforce and improved automation and how service providers can monetize managed services on private networks.
From Lightshed Partners:
Amazon’s announcement of AWS Private 5G in a box at this year’s re:Invent trade show caught headlines. But it overshadowed what we believe was much bigger developments, discussed the same day. That Private 5G box is important and ensures a strong ecosystem for CBRS spectrum in the United States. But Amazon has made significant progress in developing a carrier-class, private network provisioning portal that could be far more disruptive to the global telecom industry. This goes far beyond dropping an AWS Wavelength Zone into 13 Verizon data centers just to speed up app performance. Developers are being enabled.
The potential of Amazon’s provisioning portal is both impressive and ambitious. There are plenty in the telco space that doubt that Amazon can achieve the level of automation that is being promised. If it works, a developer will have a tool to quickly create new applications within private networks that can be quickly and repeatedly tested in a fully automated virtual lab. Gone are the lengthy delays while waiting for carriers, vendors and testers to apply new workloads manually. We are talking days versus months or even years.
Upon implementation of a cloud native application on a private network, the enterprise customer will have full access to the network data, previously under the controlled domain of the operator. With strong governance rights, that data can be safely shared across an organization using the AWS cloud tools, with which they already have familiarity.
The large enterprise is the primary beneficiary of this new tool. Yet these enterprise customers could develop consumer facing applications. That is a different market than AWS Private 5G in a box. Private networks will also not be limited to a building or campus. Applications could extend over cities, regions, nationwide or frankly globally as adoption moves forward.
Media and investors relish throwing shade at Dish as it develops this network, but CEO Charlie Ergen is not in this alone and Amazon appears to be putting notable resources behind its development. We expect to see initial enterprise applications to be announced this year by Dish. We also expect additional traditional telecom vendors to shift development dollars to optimize their products to work in Amazon’s cloud. As the list of vendors certified in Amazon’s cloud grows, and Dish launches new applications, we expect it will be hard for global operators to avoid this obvious evolution of telecom networks. We predict an announcement by at least one operator further validating Amazon’s entrance into this market and Dish’s lead in the United States.
Hughes Network Systems announced the award of an $18 million contract from the Department of Defense (DoD) to deploy a standalone 5G network at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington state. The Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) was issued through the Information Warfare Research Project (IWRP) consortium, a collaboration to engage industry and academia to develop and mature technologies in the field of information warfare that enhance Navy and Marine Corps mission effectiveness. Hughes will serve as the prime contractor connecting the base with a secure 5G network to support operations, maintenance and flight traffic management. The Hughes 5G network will utilize spectrum from DISH Wireless, the only carrier capable of providing the right combination of low band, mid band, and high band (mmWave) spectrum. This work is part of on-going DoD 5G experimentation led by the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
“Over the course of this three-year project, we will demonstrate for the U.S. Department of Defense how 5G infrastructure from Hughes – including a packet processing core, radio access, edge cloud, security and network management – can power the resilient networking necessary to transform base operations,” said Dr. Rajeev Gopal, vice president, Advanced Programs, Hughes. “Today’s walkie-talkies, paper-trails and telephone conversations will be replaced with a private, secure 5G network over which air station processes and systems will be automated and continuously optimized. What’s more, the standalone, standards-based configuration – including O-RAN standards for flexibility – will connect seamlessly anywhere on the planet using Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Geostationary Orbit (GEO) satellite connectivity.”
“DISH is delivering the connectivity for this private 5G network, providing engineering services, support and access to our spectrum portfolio,” said Stephen Bye, chief commercial officer, DISH. “As we build our own network, we’re proud to team with Hughes in this important project to deliver a fast, secure, reliable network to serve the U.S. Department of Defense and support mission-critical functions.”
“This award is a testament to Hughes leadership in engineering and managing smart networks that enable the military to exchange information with the right people at the right time with an any-network approach that’s hardware agnostic and transport independent,” said Rick Lober, vice president and general manager, Hughes Defense. “We look forward to showcasing our capabilities in secure management of a 5G stand-alone deployment with advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning for ongoing enhancement and increasing efficiencies.”
The deployment, which began in September 2021, leverages Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) and meets National Security Administration (NSA) Commercial Solution for Classified (CSFC) requirements. Working together on the project, with Hughes as the integrator, are: Boingo Wireless, Cisco, Dell, DISH, JMA Wireless and Intel.
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