Google Distributed Cloud for 5G network operators – another form of lock-in?

At Google Cloud Next ’21 the cloud giant announced Google Distributed Cloud, a portfolio of solutions consisting of hardware and software that extend Google cloud infrastructure to the edge and into the customer premises data center.  This new offering permits wireless network operators to run their 5G core and radio access network (RAN) functions on Google Distributed Cloud in a variety of locations. These could include a telco’s own facilities, premises owned by customers or Google’s network of about 140 centers. One unifying theme is that hosting functions in a multitude of places – and not just a couple of big data centers – would shorten the distance that data signals must travel and cut service-interfering latency, a measure of the journey time. Functions can also be co-hosted with enterprise applications, according to Google.

In particular, Google Distributed Cloud can run across multiple locations, including:

  1. Google’s network edge – Allowing customers to leverage over 140+ Google network edge locations around the world.
  2. Operator edge – Enabling customers to take advantage of an operator’s edge network and benefit from 5G/LTE services offered by our leading communication service provider (CSP) partners. The operator edge is optimized to support low-latency use cases, running edge applications with stringent latency and bandwidth requirements.
  3. Customer edge – Supporting customer-owned edge or remote locations such as retail stores, factory floors, or branch offices, which require localized compute and processing directly in the edge locations.
  4. Customer data centers – Supporting customer-owned data centers and colocation facilities to address strict data security and privacy requirements, and to modernize on-premises deployments while meeting regulatory compliance.
google distributed cloud.jpg

The first products under this portfolio include Google Distributed Cloud Edge and Google Distributed Cloud Hosted.  Google Distributed Cloud Edge is now available for preview, while Google Distributed Cloud Hosted set to become available in preview in the first half of 2022.

Google Distributed Cloud Edge is primarily aimed at wireless network operators. It  is designed to exist in the operator edge, customer edge and Google edge locations, of which there are over 140 around the world.

while Google Distributed Cloud Hosted is meant for public-sector and commercial customers that need to meet strict data residency, security or privacy requirements. Both are fully managed and comprise hardware and software solutions, including artificial intelligence and analytics capabilities.

During a media briefing, Google Cloud’s VP and GM of Open Infrastructure Sachin Gupta said “This portfolio allows customers to focus on applications and business initiatives rather than management of their underlying infrastructure. In other words, they can just leave the complexity to us.”

Gupta added that the Distributed Cloud Edge product enables network operators to run 5G core and radio access network functions closer to users, allowing them to slash latency and “offer their enterprise customers high-speed bandwidth, with private 5G and localized compute.” In a blog, the executive added the product advances previously announced work with Ericsson and Nokia to deliver cloud-native network applications.  He said that Distributed Cloud Hosted  is a “safe and secure way to modernize on premises deployments without requiring any connectivity to Google Cloud.”

Google Distributed Cloud is built on Anthos, an open-source-based platform that unifies the management of infrastructure and applications across on-premises, edge, and in multiple public clouds, all while offering consistent operation at scale. Google Distributed Cloud taps into our planet-scale infrastructure that delivers the highest levels of performance, availability, and security, while Anthos running on Google-managed hardware at the customer or edge location provides a services platform on which to run applications securely and remotely.

Using Google Distributed Cloud, customers can migrate or modernize applications and process data locally with Google Cloud services, including databases, machine learning, data analytics and container management. Customers can also leverage third-party services from leading vendors in their own dedicated environment. At launch, a diverse portfolio of partners, including CiscoDellHPE, and NetApp, will support the service.

As Google’s global network increases in reach, the company will be building out service-centric networking capabilities to simplify everything from connectivity to observability. For organizations with interconnects, VPNs, and SD-WANs, Networking Connectivity Center provides a centralized management model, with monitoring and visualization through our Network Intelligence Center. And, with Private Service Connect, partners and customers such as Bloomberg, MongoDB, and Elastic are now able to easily connect services without having to configure the underlying network.

Enterprises with workloads both on-premises and in the cloud can leverage hybrid load balancing to securely optimize application delivery. To help you detect and prevent malicious bot attacks, we recently integrated reCAPTCHA Enterprise with Cloud Amor. Together with Cloud IDS, the Google network edge is fortified with best-in-class security.

Obviously, virtualization is a network operator prerequisite so that network software runs on common, off-the-shelf compute servers. After virtualizing, network operators could theoretically integrate their networks with Google’s distributed cloud.

Iain Morris of Light Reading offers his opinion:

Operators might do this if they believe a deal with Google costs less than operating a private cloud, or if it promises other benefits. But it means giving the hyper-scaler a big say over technology strategy and would have been inconceivable just a few years ago, when the valuation gap between telecom players and Internet firms was not so extreme and telcos were much warier of tie-ups.

For a start, it would obviously hand prominent roles to Anthos, Google’s application management platform, and Kubernetes, a container orchestration platform that Google originally designed. Even when Google’s facilities are not being used, it will effectively manage the hardware and software.

Obviously, neither Ericsson or Nokia were listed as partners or systems integrators as their purpose built wireless network equipment and 5G SA core network software are in direct competition with 5G deployments using hyper-scale cloud service providers (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud) technology.  Ericsson will launch virtual RAN software next year while Nokia´s AirScale Cloud RAN solution is in trials with major wireless network operators, including AT&T (which has outsourced its 5G SA core network to Amazon AWS).  Nonetheless, those two major network equipment vendors made supportive comments:

“The announcement of Google Distributed Cloud supports Ericsson’s vision of the network becoming a platform of innovation, enabling companies across the ecosystem to deliver the applications of the future the way they need to, unlocking the full potential of 5G and edge,” said Rishi Bhaskar, Head of Hyperscale Cloud Providers for Ericsson North America.

“This announcement builds on our on-going partnership with Google Cloud to develop Nokia cloud-native 5G core and Nokia radio solutions for Google’s edge computing platform,” said Nishant Batra, Nokia Chief Strategy and Technology Officer. “By extending this relationship into Google Distributed Cloud Edge, we will increase customer choice and flexibility, ultimately helping our global customer base with multiple cloud-based solutions to deliver 5G services on the network edge.”

Curiously, there was no mention of software partners in Google’s announcement, but any RAN software would have to work with the underlying base station hardware. Who takes responsibility for that is something 5G network operators must resolve before committing to Google Cloud.

Iain says that network operators teaming up with cloud service providers is a new form of lock-in substituting cloud hyper-scalers from wireless network equipment vendors. He wrote:

What’s entirely unclear is why operators should worry less about dependency on Google than they currently do about their heavy reliance on Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia. Switching from one RAN vendor to another is costly but feasible, as swap-outs of Huawei in Europe are showing. Moving from one public cloud to another may be as tricky as quitting a crime syndicate. In 2019, Snapchat developer Snap warned in a regulatory filing that moving systems between public clouds would be “difficult to implement” and demand “significant time and expense.”

If this and other hyper-scaler offers take off, the real losers would probably not be Ericsson and Nokia – which can still sell radio units and provide RAN software – but the vendors of private cloud software, such as VMware and Red Hat (owned by IBM). More generally, the public cloud could also be a threat to some of Google’s own hardware partners. “The server vendors (Dell, HPE etc) also lose out,” says James Crawshaw, a principal analyst with Omdia (a sister company to Light Reading, in an email. “Although they are going to be building and shipping the Google boxes, I suspect the margins on these will be lower than the regular servers they sell enterprises.”

Few telcos have been as brave/reckless (delete according to bias) as Dish and gone all-in with a public cloud. That is partly because brownfield operators would be writing off the servers they already own. Nevertheless, Crawshaw expects public cloud usage to keep rising. “Servers are depreciated over three to seven years depending on the business and how fresh they like their IT,” he says. “So while the telcos will continue to run their own clouds, they will increase their public cloud usage over time and only partially renew their private estate.”

AT&T, Bell Canada, Telus, Telenet, TIM, Reliance Jio and Orange are all on the growing list of operators that have put some IT workloads on Google Cloud. “Some of these are running packet core and RAN applications as well,” says Gupta. Contrast that with Dish Network which is wholly reliant on the AWS public cloud and AT&T which has its own physical 5G RAN, but will use the public AWS cloud for its 5G SA core network.

“Some years ago, everyone was saying we would have vendor lock-in with Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia and no one mentioned Oracle and Cisco and now the light is on hyper-scalers,” said Yves Bellego, Orange’s director of network strategy, during a recent interview with Light Reading. “In fact, that risk is something we have always been very concerned about.”  That would imply cloud hyper-scaler lock-in is something network operators must carefully evaluate.



Telefónica Deutschland/O2 “pure 5G” with DSS, Open RAN and 5G SA

One year after the 5G launch, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 confirms their 5G network will cover over 50 percent of the German population by the end of 2022. The company is also on track to cover of over 30 percent of the population by the end of 2021. The basis for this 5G network expansion is the  investment of around four billion euros until the end of 2022.

The focus of this 5G network expansion is on so-called “pure 5G” via the mid-band 3.6 GHz frequency. The 3,000th 3.6 GHz antenna just went live in the O2 5G network. Meanwhile, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 is installing around 180 of these 5G antennas in the network every week, tendency further increasing. The company is expanding 5G twice as fast overall compared to 4G and is fully on track to supply all of Germany with 5G by the end of 2025.

As with 2G, 3G and 4G, we are also bringing 5G to mass market readiness in Germany through rapid network expansion, network investments in the billions and products with the best price-performance ratio,” said CEO Markus Haas on the first anniversary of the 5G launch in the O2 network.

“Since the beginning, we have aligned the 5G roll-out with the concrete benefits for private customers and businesses. This is the most effective way for us to drive forward the urgently needed digitisation for business and consumers. Today, one year after the launch, our 5G network is already live in a hundred cities. And current international tests confirm that it is the fastest 5G network in Germany. Now we will also quickly bring the O2 5G network to the area.”

The added value of 5G for private customers in this early expansion phase, beyond the performance advantages, lies primarily in the additional network capacities provided by the new mobile communications standard. In the first half of 2021, the O2 mobile network transported 1 billion gigabytes of data, an absolute record. Cities are data traffic hotspots. The growing number of urban 5G users is increasingly shifting parts of this data traffic to the 5G network, thus relieving the 4G network. In this way, the O2 5G network also ensures a consistently good network experience for 4G users of all Telefónica Deutschland / O2 brands and partner brands.

Market penetration with 5G is visibly gaining speed. In the meantime, 5G smartphones account for more than 50 percent of all end devices sold through Telefónica Deutschland / O2 sales channels. In line with this, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 is now moving the 5G network expansion more strongly into the area. Here, too, the telecommunications company is focusing on so-called “pure 5G” via the 3.6 GHz frequency. In the future, it will provide private and business users with multiple gigabit data speeds and response times (latency) of just a few milliseconds.

This is where “pure 5G” differs from the combined 4G/5G via Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), which currently prevails in other German 5G networks [1.]. 5G shares lower frequency bands with 4G at comparable performance levels. Where it is a useful 4G extension in selected areas, the company will also use Dynamic Spectrum Sharing. In addition, it is partially rolling out 5G purely over the 700 MHz frequency to accelerate area rollout and lay the groundwork for the upcoming 5G Stand Alone in the O2 network. The first sites are already live.

Note 1. Both Vodafone Germany and Telekom Deutschland use DSS to facilitate the rollout of 5G by sharing spectrum between 4G and 5G networks: Vodafone has deployed the technology to switch 700MHz frequencies back and forth between 4G and 5G, while Telekom Deutschland is rolling out DSS as part of a 5G expansion drive and is apportioning 5MHz of its 2.1GHz resource for 4G and 5G as needed.  Telefónica Deutschland, which has already said it would use DSS for deployment in rural areas, conceded it will use DSS for 4G expansion in “selected areas.” The operator also appeared to indicate that its 5G deployment over 700MHz will be only partially “pure,” in order to accelerate its network expansion.

Photo Credits: Henning Koepke / Telefónica Deutschland

Telefónica Deutschland / O2 is continuously increasing its 5G network expansion despite parallel major projects such as the 3G switch-off and densification of the 4G network. In addition, the company has set the course for its 5G network of the future in the last twelve months. Telefónica Deutschland / O2 was the first German network operator to bring the innovative open architecture Open RAN for the mobile access network out of the laboratory and into live operation.

The conversion to Open RAN will start before the end of this year. It will give the company greater flexibility in the choice of manufacturers and, as a primarily software-based solution, simplify and accelerate the upgrading of base stations.  Telefónica Group has appointed NEC as systems integrator for open RAN trials in its four main markets – Spain, Germany, the UK and Brazil.

 O2 plans to deploy Open RAN later this year

In addition, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 achieved the first frequency bundling in the 5G live network in this country via carrier aggregation, which further accelerates 5G for customers and ensures a stable high data throughput. The O2 network also recently saw the German premiere of the first voice call directly via the 5G live network. These 5G calls do not take a diversion via the 4G network and thus no longer interrupt ongoing 5G data connections. Finally, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 now operates an independent 5G core network (no explanation given for what that means?).

The company has thus created the basis for freeing the new network from its technical dependence on 4G and will provide a 5G core network for 5G Stand Alone (SA).  In future, this will enable private and business customers to use even the most demanding 5G applications. Technically, the company is already in a position to roll out a nationwide 5G Stand Alone network.

As soon as 5G Stand Alone offers real added value for customers, O2 will activate the technology. For example, when enough end devices in the market support 5G SA. Telefónica Deutschland is working with Ericsson for its 5G core network, but noted that the deployment of open radio access network (RAN) technology will ensure access to a wider group of vendors.

Over the past year of 5G service, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 has started to move their 5G core network for industrial applications to the cloud. This will significantly simplify the establishment of 5G campus networks, accelerate the introduction of new industrial applications for companies and shorten the time to market for new products and applications, according to the company.

The rapid expansion of the 5G network helps Telefónica Deutschland / O2 to pursue its corporate goal of offering its customers the greenest mobile network in Germany by 2025. 5G transmits significantly more energy-efficiently than the predecessor standards. The conversion of 3G to 4G and 5G network technology alone will reduce the power consumption of the O2 network by up to 90 percent per transported byte. In addition, the company will make a significant contribution to achieving Germany’s climate targets overall. Its 5G network will pave the way for digital solutions and all-round connectivity, helping other industries to save CO2 emissions and develop sustainable business models.


The Sorry State of 5G SA Core Networks- Smart Communications in Phillipines

Very few 5G SA core networks of any size have been launched to date. According to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), just 13 network operators had launched commercial public 5G SA networks as of the middle of August 2021. Some 45 other operators are planning on deploying 5G SA for public networks, and 23 operators are involved in tests or trials.  That’s out of a total of 176 commercial 5G networks launched worldwide (163 of them are 5G NSA networks)!

Note that there is NO 5G core network in 5G NSA as per middle of this chart:

In the U.S., T-Mobile’s 5G SA has not provided the much touted benefits such as network slicing, automation, service chaining, network management, etc.  “The light version of 5G standalone,” summed up analyst Roger Entner, founder of Recon Analytics.

For T-Mobile, the immediate incentive and upside to deploy SA 5G was making its midband 2.5GHz 5G more relevant, Entner said. As in, keeping its low band 600MHz 5G non-standalone as the pilot signal would lead to fewer phone screens lighting up with its mid band 5G, especially indoors.

“Now that 2.5GHz signal can piggyback on the 600 pilot,” he said. “With that, they get better penetration in the building with 2.5.”

Karri Kuoppamaki, SVP of radio network technology and strategy at T-Mobile, said that “the vast majority” of the carrier’s 5G customers had SA-ready SIMs, but he didn’t offer more specifics about the state of its standalone deployment.  Those customers may not necessarily realize they’ve gotten anything special from SA 5G at T-Mobile, but that may not matter either, given the superiority of the carrier’s mid-band 5G.

“Standalone 5G is a means to an end,” said Craig Moffett, analyst with MoffettNathanson. “Ultimately, what matters is network capability. Being first gives T-Mobile just one more edge in network performance.”  Avi Greengart, founder and lead analyst at Techsponential, concurred.

“For now, smartphone buyers should focus on finding the best combination of speed and coverage that is available in their area,” he said in an email. “That is often T-Mobile’s 5G network, but the technical underpinnings are somewhat less important to average consumers than the amount and frequency of the spectrum that T-Mobile has to deploy thanks to its acquisition of Sprint.”


Smart Communications is one of the few wireless network operators in the world to have launched a 5G standalone (SA) network.  The Philippines-based telco is using a separate 5G core and operating a network that is no longer anchored to 4G LTE (5G NSA). The new infrastructure supports network slicing and opens up industrial and enterprise opportunities, for example.

Smart’s 5G SA network is not yet widely available. In fact, it has been launched only in Makati – a city in the Metro Manila region and the country’s financial hub. PLDT-owned Smart said its “first batch” of 5G SA sites is fully operational.  Smart  noted that it has now deployed more than 4,000 non-standalone 5G sites nationwide, supported by PLDT’s 524,000 kilometer fiber network. Smart first launched 5G services in 2020.

Smart has collaborated with EricssonHuawei and Nokia on 5G, although it only name-checked the Swedish vendor in today’s release. For example, Smart said it has teamed up with Ericsson to develop 5G use cases at the PLDT-Smart Technolab, which currently hosts one of the 5G SA sites.

“Through the years, PLDT and Smart have been at the forefront of breakthrough innovations in the telco industry, including 5G.  With the first batch of our 5G SA sites now fully operational, we are starting to see the true capabilities of 5G which will play a critical role in the advancement of massive IoT, health care and smart cities, delivering customer experience that is truly world-class” said Alfredo Panlilio, PLDT and Smart Communications president and CEO.

“Technology plays an important role in today’s society as evidently seen during the pandemic. 5G SA, as an innovation platform, will create new opportunities for enterprises and consumers that will maximize its ultra-reliable and low latency capabilities. This enables industrial automation, autonomous mobile robotics deployment, safe remote crane operations, fast response in gaming and interactive video streaming, among others. We are creating opportunities for the Filipino Enterprises to compete in the global arena,” said Mario Tamayo, head of technology at PLDT and Smart.

With the activation of the first 5G SA sites at the PLDT and Smart headquarters in Makati, Smart has upgraded its 5G facilities, enabling them to connect with the 5G core network.

With 5G SA in place, Smart said it will be able to offer Voice over New Radio (VoNR) and network slicing capabilities in the short term, as well as support new industrial and enterprise opportunities. Smart made its first successful VoNR call in July this year at the Technolab in Smart Tower in Makati City.

Smart is certainly the first to launch 5G SA in the Philippines, while rival Globe Telecom is testing the technology. Globe had 81.7 million mobile subscribers and Smart 71.7 million at the end of the second quarter.  Smart and Globe still dominate the Philippines mobile market, despite a challenge from China Telecom-backed newcomer Dito Telecom.

About Smart Communications:

More than 650 global brands—including those in the most highly regulated industries and all the G15 investment banks, rely on Smart Communications to deliver meaningful customer communications across the entire lifecycle—empowering them to succeed in today’s digital-focused, customer-driven world while also simplifying processes and operating more efficiently. This is what it means to scale the conversation.



Telcos Loss: Private 5G & MEC/5G SA Core Network – Cloud Giants Take Market Share


Canada’s TeraGo to Complete 5G Core Network for 5G FWA and private 5G network applications

Canadian network operator TeraGo said it is on track to complete its planned 5G core network expansion projects for this year, as the company prepares to deploy 5G fixed wireless access services to its existing customer base and 5G private networking applications for new customers.

TeraGo plans to achieve its goal using the capital raised earlier this year to increase capacity and throughput in its core network and to its wireless hub sites. This initiative is necessary to provide the network bandwidth that 5G fixed wireless access and private networks will require.

5G private networking applications are expected to take advantage of the security, high speed, and low latency that TeraGo’s licensed mmWave spectrum offers (not that 5G mmWave frequencies have yet to be agreed on in the still uncompleted revision 6 to ITU-R M.1036).

TeraGo 5G:  TeraGo has Canada’s largest nationwide millimeter wave spectrum holdings, including the 7 largest cities in the country. Throughout 2021 and beyond, TeraGo will continue to invest in 5G technology trials and proof of concepts to explore how 5G Fixed Wireless solutions can be brought to market and solve real-world problems for our customers.


  • Largest mmWave spectrum holder in Canada, including the 7 largest cites in the country
  • Edge Computing (requires 5G SA Core network)
  • Industrial IoT Applications (can use 5G NSA or 5G SA Core network)



To enable these new applications, TeraGo is expanding its overall network capacity this year by five to six times its pre-expansion levels.  Nokia supplies TeraGo with 5G network equipment with customer premises gear from Askey Computer and Inseego.

“We continue to diligently work through our network upgrade plan, which includes over 50 projects that we expect to complete by year-end,” said Matthew Gerber, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at TeraGo.

“Some of these projects include things like new fiber optic connections to our hub sites and core network link upgrades to 100 Gbps. We have completed over 40 of these projects to date and are currently on track to achieve our project objectives by the end of the calendar year. We will continue to target installing some of our first customer pilot installations over the next couple of months and remain confident in our ability to establish TeraGo as one of the first operators to launch commercial mmWave 5G fixed wireless and private networking services in Canada.”

About TeraGo:
TeraGo owns a national spectrum portfolio of exclusive 24 GHz and 38 GHz wide-area spectrum licenses including 2,120 MHz of spectrum across Canada’s 6 largest cities. TeraGo provides businesses across Canada with cloud, colocation and connectivity services. TeraGo manages over 3,000 cloud workloads, operates five data centers in the Greater Toronto Area, the Greater Vancouver Area, and Kelowna, and owns and manages its own IP network.

TeraGo offers a managed SD-WAN service as described in this blog post.

The Company serves business customers in  major markets across  Canada including Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Ottawa and Winnipeg.

For more information about TeraGo, please visit


IBM will build Telefónica’s 5G core network with Cloud Pak for Network Automation, Red Hat OpenShift and Juniper networking

IBM has been awarded a multi-year contract to help Telefonica build its new ‘Unica Next’ cloud-based 5G core network platform. In a statement, IBM said the Spanish operator has engaged IBM Global Business Services – the consultancy arm of IBM, Red Hat and Juniper Networks – to deploy an “open-standard open-networking” platform across multiple central, regional and distributed data centers to deliver low latency and high bandwidth services.

As a member of the IBM Cloud for Telecommunications ecosystem, Juniper is proud to support IBM and Red Hat as they work with Telefónica to build and deploy a modern 5G network. Juniper says it is committed to bringing the power of open hybrid cloud architecture to clients around the world.

The partners said the first Unica Next data centers are set to be inaugurated in October 2021 with a scalable architecture designed to address ETSI and other relevant industry standards (there are none for 5G SA core network). The new network is built on IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation, Red Hat OpenShift and Juniper Networks Apstra and QFX technology to deliver end-to-end orchestration and operations.

These new capabilities will be engineered to allow Telefónica to more quickly deploy network services and new network functions, leveraging the IBM Cloud for Telecommunications partner ecosystem. Telefónica, as a pioneer in the adoption of open networks, has already deployed a live implementation using the IBM Cloud for Telecommunications in Europe and is continuing to innovate for their customers with speed and improved value.

IBM added that the combination will give Telefonica increased observability and control for managing the Unica Next Kubernetes environment and drive 5G and edge innovation more quickly and with less complexity. Its IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation product is AI-powered automation software designed to provide extreme automation, zero-touch provisioning and closed loop operation capabilities.

“We are proud to partner with Telefónica to reach this historic moment for the telecommunications industry in Europe,” said Steve Canepa, managing director, IBM Global Communications Sector. “This implementation of Telefónica’s cloud-native, 5G core network platform reflects IBM’s significant investments in AI-powered automation software and the telco prime systems integration expertise required to deploy modern telecommunication networks – core, access, and edge.  We are energized by the opportunity to enable Telefónica and all our clients to modernize their networks and enable new revenue-generating services that deliver tremendous value to consumer and enterprise customers.”

IBM Global Telco Solutions Lab in Coppell, Texas, connected along with Telefónica’s Network Cloud Lab in Madrid, will help accelerate UNICA Next’s evolution by building new fully integrated releases using CI/CD methodology for ongoing life-cycle upgrades to the existing UNICA Next platform. By working with IBM in this way, Telefónica will be able to increase agility and data security and continue to innovate and transform, drawing on IBM’s large network function ecosystem, Red Hat’s vast ecosystem of certified partners, and Juniper’s relationships with network function and hardware vendors.

Telefonica has already deployed a live implementation of the open network using the IBM cloud for telecommunications in Europe. The partners also announced that IBM Global Telco Solutions Lab in Coppell, Texas, will be connected to Telefonica’s Network Cloud Lab in Madrid to help accelerate Unica Next’s evolution by building new fully integrated releases using CI/CD methodology for ongoing life-cycle upgrades.

“Building out the UNICA Next platform with its next-generation network architecture shows how important it is to build the infrastructure now to support the deployment of 5G. 5G has the potential to support thousands of use cases and applications for consumers and enterprises in all industries. Our collaboration will not only help us to harness the potential of 5G, but also prepare for the future through a hybrid-cloud led technology and business transformation. With IBM, Telefónica is combining the latency and bandwidth advancements of 5G with the customization and intelligence of the cloud: we anticipate the results will be transformative in Europe and beyond,” said Javier Gutierrez, director of strategy, network, and IT development for Telefónica.

It’s interesting that last year, Telefónica Germany said it would build it’s 5G core network on AWS for the public cloud infrastructure and Ericsson for the core and orchestration components.


Telefónica Germany builds 5G core network on AWS to capture Industry 4.0 market

Nokia & Vodafone Turkey new milestone in optical transmission speed; Nokia -UScellular 5G SA/Core Network agreement

Nokia claims a new speed record with Vodafone Turkey with a regional demonstration of a 1 Tbps per channel coherent transmission over a live optical network. The companies proved a capacity increase of 150 percent over a single channel coherent transmission, and the ability to scale network capacity up to 70 Tbps per fiber. This capacity milestone is part of an ongoing modernization effort with Nokia to future-proof Vodafone Turkey’s optical network architecture.

This optical transmission test builds upon an earlier trial conducted by Nokia and Vodafone Turkey that validated a 1Tbps clear channel IP router interface, further preparing the operator’s network for the future.

The optical network speed test showcased 1 Tbps capacity over 130 GHz bandwidth without any errors on Vodafone Turkey’s live optical network between its data centers. The trial was conducted over the operator’s in-service optical network, based on Nokia’s wavelength routing technology, which includes its non-blocking CDC-F ROADM optical switch architecture. Supporting operation over C+L bands, Nokia’s optical line system also enables a doubling of the total fibre capacity of Vodafone Turkey’s network.

Nokia’s photonic service engine (PSE) technology, providing maximum performance and spectral efficiency. The Nokia PSE coherent optics are deployed in Vodafone Turkey’s network using the 1830 PSI-M (Photonic Service Interconnect-Modular) compact modular optical networking platform, optimized for data center interconnect applications over metro, regional and long-haul distances.

Thibaud RerolleCTO at Vodafone Turkey, said: “At Vodafone Turkey, we are committed to using next generation technology to provide the most convenient services to our customers – uninterrupted and reliably. Our fiber optic backbone is an important step on the way to 5G and, with Nokia, we continue to equip our optical network with the latest technologies and innovations for our services today and in the future.”

James Watt, Head of Optical Networks Division, Nokia, said: “Our field-proven optical technologies and solutions are enabling service providers like Vodafone Turkey to meet growing capacity demand and provide the best end-user experience. We are pleased to complement our deployment of advanced optical transport solutions with the successful and timely completion of this crucial trial to modernize Vodafone Turkey’s optical network. Together, we are accelerating their digital transformation with solutions that can be easily scaled to meet 5G demands.”



Separately, Nokia today announced that it has been selected to roll out UScellular’s standalone 5G core network with deployment expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

  • UScellular will deploy Nokia’s portfolio of hardware, software and services to enable its 5G standalone (SA) core network
  • UScellular’s 5G SA network will provide its 5 million customers with superior service, capacity, and reliability

By implementing Nokia’s 5G SA core, UScellular will be able to unlock the full potential of 5G for its customers, delivering the high speeds and low latencies that will power new applications such as virtual and augmented reality. UScellular will also be able to leverage Nokia’s cloud-native, open modular structure to rapidly introduce and scale future network functions for new revenue opportunities.

UScellular’s deployment of Nokia’s 5G core adds to its existing support for the Radio Access Network (RAN) where Nokia is supplying its AirScale radios for both low-band and mmWave 5G.

Mike Irizarry, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, UScellular:

“As we continue to expand and enhance our 5G network, we value the innovation and support that Nokia provides to help us deliver a superior wireless experience to our residential and business customers. As we deploy 5G SA core, Nokia brings expertise, technology excellence and the right mix of hardware, software and services to meet our requirements for high performance and low latency.”

Ed CholertonPresident of Nokia North America

“We are thrilled to be selected by UScellular to deliver a full 5G experience to its customers. Our 5G SA core and 5G radios provide not only new capabilities, scale, operational efficiencies, and revenue opportunities, but drive a far better user experience that customers expect. Working with UScellular to provide the core network function software and cloud infrastructure continues our momentum in the North American standalone 5G core market.”

Nokia’s 5G SA core is a cloud-native architecture with network functions deployed as microservices that can be moved to the network edge to meet low latency requirements for software-driven services, like network slicing. Globally, Nokia has already deployed over 250+ cloud core networks and 70+ 5G standalone core networks.


Nokia said its 5G SA core is currently deployed in more than 70 networks globally, but very few of those are commercially available.

Nokia also sold its 5G SA core to T-Mobile US, the first operator to deploy a 5G SA core. It remains the only U.S. operator with a commercially available standalone 5G network.

5G SA cores remain incredibly scarce. Most of the 141 live 5G networks at the end of April 2021 were still operating in non-standalone mode (5G NSA), Stéphane Téral, chief analyst at LightCounting, noted during a panel discussion at MWC Barcelona 2021.  As of the end of July, there were only nine standalone networks globally, he said. The latest was KT Corp.’s 5G SA core deployment using Samsung’s technology.

A 5G SA core introduces many unique 5G features, including higher data throughput and performance, lower latency, network slicing. It separates the data and control planes which is required for mobile edge computing and many industrial applications.


NEC expands partnership with AWS for global 5G, digital government, hybrid cloud

NEC Corp. expanded its collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in areas that include global 5G, digital government, and hybrid cloud in support of accelerating digital transformation for business customers.

In November 2020, NEC and AWS concluded a corporate-level strategic collaboration agreement and have been developing offerings and strengthening delivery functionalities since then. NEC will now expand this collaboration and strengthen efforts in the following areas: global 5G, digital government, and hybrid cloud as follows:

1. Global 5G

NEC aims to develop an end-to-end 5G offering and to provide it globally by combining NEC’s high-performance cloud-native open 5G mobile core, OSS/BSS solutions, local 5G use cases etc., and AWS cloud and edge solutions. NEC will accelerate telecom carriers’ cloudification of network workloads and enhance digital transformation for enterprises by deploying 5G-based infrastructure and applications at the network edge. This combined solution stack will be supported by NEC’s system integration services to enable customers to efficiently deploy and scale 5G networks, enhance automation and drive significant improvement in operational economics.

2. Digital government

NEC has been certified as an AWS Government Competency Partner based on the strategic collaboration that started last year and its achievements for governments to date. Going forward, NEC will further strengthen its relationship with AWS and focus on developing and providing a menu of offerings to accelerate the digital transformation for government activities in Japan.

3. Hybrid cloud

By collaborating with AWS, NEC aims to develop and provide a menu of offerings that connects on-premises and cloud environments securely, at high speed, and with low latency. This will contribute to the acceleration of digital transformation through modernization that utilizes the customer’s existing information technology (IT) assets.

To accelerate these initiatives, the NEC Group has increased the number of AWS-certified engineers to 2,000 at present, aiming for 3,000, double the number from the start of collaboration in 2020, and firmly maintains one of Japan’s largest delivery capabilities for cloud projects. Going forward, NEC will continue to strengthen these positions and to ensure that it responds to customers’ digital transformation demands.

NEC also intends to enhance its hybrid cloud offering with support from AWS, providing services that connect both on-premises and cloud environments in order to support enterprise digital transformation strategies.  NEC has already been building up expertise in this field. The Japanese IT vendor has increased the number of AWS-certified engineers to 2,000, up from 1,500 in November 2020, and is aiming for 3,000 in three years.  Furthermore, NEC has been certified as an AWS Government Competency Partner and said it will focus on “developing and providing a menu of offerings to accelerate the digital transformation for government activities in Japan.”


Comments from both companies on this collaboration are as follows:

“NEC is pleased to announce the expansion of its strategic collaboration with AWS. Last year, NEC announced this global collaboration as the first of its kind between AWS and a Japanese company. It has been a great year, seeing many successes in the areas of government, modernization and in the skill enhancement of NEC engineers. NEC is now expanding the collaboration with AWS in the areas of global 5G, digital government and in enhanced hybrid cloud offerings. With the strong global support from AWS, NEC will help drive digital transformation in the government sector and across industries as part of orchestrating a brighter world,” says Toshifumi Yoshizaki, Executive Vice President at NEC Corporation.

“We are delighted to deepen our relationship with NEC. AWS welcomes NEC’s commitment and delivery of solutions built on AWS to deliver high-quality solutions that accelerate customers’ digital transformations. We look forward to NEC’s continued expansion of offerings and further expansion of delivery capabilities to optimize these transformations,” says Doug Yeum, Global Head of Alliances & Channels at Amazon Web Services, Inc.

Toshifumi Yoshizaki, Executive Vice President at NEC Corporation and Matt Garman, Senior Vice President at Amazon Web Services Inc.

NEC and its Netcracker subsidiary have already deployed their 5G core and full stack digital BSS/OSS on AWS cloud infrastructure to orchestrate and automate 5G digital services. The service was demonstrated at Mobile World Congress 2021, when NEC deployed its 5G core control plane on an AWS Region and its 5G UPF on an AWS Outposts’ edge location.

Other NEC cloud related partnerships:

  • NEC’s collaboration with Rakuten Mobile, Japan’s disruptive open RAN and cloud-native 4G/5G wireless service provider, has certainly raised its open RAN and 5G Core profile. In May, Rakuten Mobile signed MoUs with Fujitsu and NEC to try and accelerate “global expansion” of Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).
  • In June, NEC and Rakuten Mobile said they would jointly develop the containerized standalone (SA) 5G core network (5GC) to be utilized in Rakuten Mobile’s fully virtualized cloud native 5G network.
  • Later in June, Rakuten Mobile, NEC and Intel announced that they have achieved a performance of 640 Gbps per server for the containerized User Plane Function (UPF) on the containerized 5G SA core network jointly developed by Rakuten Mobile and NEC running on the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).
  • In July, NEC expanded its “multi-year strategic partnership” with Microsoft whereby NEC adopted Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud platform provider.  (But now it’s in bed with AWS?)
  • In August, NEC announced a collaboration with Fujitsu on interoperability testing for 5G base stations that conform to specifications from the O-RAN Alliance.


About NEC Corporation:

NEC Corporation has established itself as a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies while promoting the brand statement of “Orchestrating a brighter world.” NEC enables businesses and communities to adapt to rapid changes taking place in both society and the market as it provides for the social values of safety, security, fairness and efficiency to promote a more sustainable world where everyone has the chance to reach their full potential. For more information, visit NEC at



To view and hear the comments from Toshifumi Yoshizaki, Executive Vice President at NEC Corporation and Matt Garman, Senior Vice President at Amazon Web Services Inc (pictured above), please visit:

Rakuten Mobile, Inc. and NEC to jointly develop the containerized standalone (SA) 5G core network


Why It’s Important: Rakuten Mobile, Intel and NEC collaborate on containerized 5G SA core network


TPG Telecom & Ericsson partner for 5G SA core network; Ericsson’s Intelligent Deployment

Australia’s TPG Telecom and Ericsson have announced the completion of the virtualization of TPG Telecom’s core network and a new partnership to deploy its 5G standalone core network.

With the virtualization of TPG Telecom’s core network, the telco will become the first operator in Australia to have its entire 4G and 5G customer base on a virtualized platform. Virtualization of TPG Telecom’s core network is the result of a multi-year partnership between TPG Telecom and Ericsson.

Building on the success of the virtualization program, TPG Telecom has extended its partnership with Ericsson to include the deployment of its 5G Core for standalone network. Ericsson’s cloud native dual-mode 5G Core will drive service and technology innovation for TPG Telecom’s customers.

The completion of TPG Telecom’s 5G standalone Core Network will assist the operator to cover 85 per cent of the population in ten of Australia’s largest cities and regions with its 5G network by the end of this year, whilst enabling it to deliver innovative services and emerging industry 5G applications with greater flexibility and scalability.

The 5G Core network is based on future-proof network architecture that will enable TPG Telecom to combine 4G and 5G technologies on one platform, delivering tailored services for its customers through network slicing, network exposure, and edge capabilities. The new cloud-native 5G Core network will deliver the full benefits of automation and enhance 5G customer experience through improved network speed, latency, and coverage.

TPG Telecom Executive General Manager Mobile and Fixed Networks Barry Kezik, said: “The virtualization of our core network has enabled us to fast-track our 5G rollout without disrupting 4G services.

“By introducing our new 5G Core network, we are ensuring that we can significantly expand our 5G coverage whilst introducing new and innovative 5G industry applications that are tailored to enterprises.”

Emilio Romeo, Head of Ericsson, Australia and New Zealand, said: “This achievement is a testament to the strong and ongoing partnership that we have with TPG Telecom. The virtualisation of its core network will be critical in unleashing the potential of 5G using Ericsson’s market leading 5G Core solutions.”

“I am looking forward to continue building our partnership with TPG Telecom as we support the deployment of a 5G standalone that will truly enable everyday consumers and enterprise to harness the potential of 5G.”

The successful virtualization of TPG Telecom’s Core network was enabled by the Telco Cloud Transformation partnership between TPG Telecom and Ericsson which delivered a leading-edge horizontal NFVI platform to virtualize TPG Telecom’s Core network and a range of multi-vendor network functions. This partnership has now been expanded to evolve the NFVI platform to a Cloud-native, container based environment, which will allow TPG Telecom to deploy Cloud-native Network Functions (CNFs) , including Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G Core.

The mobile network owned by TPG Telecom provides services to Vodafone, TPG, iiNet, Lebara, felix and Kogan mobile customers. TPG Telecom’s 5G services are available in selected areas in more than 700 suburbs around Australia and the company currently has around 1,600 sites in the planning and design phase. TPG Telecom’s plan is to cover 85% of the population in ten of Australia’s largest cities and regions by the end of 2021 for customers with a compatible 5G approved device.

Image Credit: Ericsson


In semi-related news, Ericsson has announced the launch of Intelligent Deployment, a suit of tools and services designed to help operators with network rollout and upgrade. As the name implies there’s lots of emphasis on AI and generally doing this sort of thing in a smarter way. This means addressing the needs of a cell site according to its specific circumstances and the particular needs of the network at a given time.

“With our Intelligent Deployment solution, we are vastly improving the way we deploy networks, making it more agile, flexible and responsive to customer needs,” said Nello Califano, Head of Strategy and Portfolio Management, Ericsson Business Area Networks. “This means we can deliver parts of our portfolio to service providers based on their specific requirements.

“We use extensive data insights to offer new services as well as pre-empt problems when introducing intelligent monitoring of the network even after end of deployment. By investing more in our network services, we create better solutions for our customers.”


Singtel discloses new 5G SA uses cases for enterprises and residents in Singapore

At its ‘Powering Up Singapore With 5G’ event, Singtel (the leading network operator in Singapore) revealed a number of 5G Standalone (SA) use cases, according to a press release.  The new use cases span a variety of sectors from entertainment to mobility and bring to life the benefits of 5G by redefining live, work and play experiences with blazing fast speeds and near-instantaneous response times.

Singtel said it continues to expand its 5G network, which now covers over two-thirds of Singapore, adding sites in densely populated areas like Choa Chu Kang, Punggol, Sembawang and Tampines. In addition, it has expanded its 5G indoor coverage to more major shopping malls island-wide such as Funan, West Mall, Tampines Mall, Northpoint City and Waterway Point.

Minister for Communications and Information Mrs Josephine Teo highlighted the role of 5G, “Mobile networks and data exchanges are key building blocks for the digital infrastructure. 5G, which promises to be ultra-fast and supports near-zero latency, can change the way we live and work in profound ways, and become essential for the digital developments of the future. Building a digital future is certainly about the hardware, software, systems and standards. It is equally about the people and skills. For that, the Government will continue to invest in reskilling and upskilling our people so that they can achieve not just digital literacy but digital mastery. This way, everyone can benefit from the infrastructure.”

Yuen Kuan Moon, CEO of Singtel said: “With the maturing of 5G technology, we’re excited to unlock the benefits of a 5G-enabled reality for consumers and enterprises. Its potential to transform business models and deliver enhanced products and services on a scale like never before, will spur Singapore’s digital economy as the country moves into post-COVID recovery. As part of our strategic reset to focus on 5G, we are accelerating our roll-out and the creation of new services.”

Ookla® recently declared Singtel the ‘Fastest 5G mobile operator in Singapore’ in H1 2021 for clocking in the highest median mobile network speed.

Singtel said the arrival of 5G has proved timely against a backdrop of accelerated digital adoption as a result of safe distancing and remote working. With more people using digital channels to go about their lives, there has been a corresponding increase in demand for fast and reliable connectivity. This is reflected in a recent Singtel survey, in which majority of consumers indicated that 5G-enabled services such as augmented reality books and virtual reality entertainment events appeal to them.

The new use cases powered by Singtel’s 5G SA network include:

  • 5G-powered Remote Racing: Partnering with Formula Square to deliver an immersive, lag-free experience racing remote-controlled cars powered by 5G at Southside, Sentosa;
  • 4K Live Streaming: Working with S.E.A. Aquarium to bring Singapore’s first underwater 5G livestream of the S.E.A. Aquarium to UNBOXED, Singtel’s unmanned pop-up retail store, where visitors can immerse themselves in the aquatic wonders of the aquarium, viewing manta rays, sharks and shoals of fishes in vivid 4K resolution;
  • Enhancing the Arts and Culture Experience: Collaborating with the National Gallery Singapore and Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay to deliver cultural and art experiences over 5G, from the Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery and the Singtel Waterfront Theatre when it opens officially next year. This will enable more people with opportunities to get up close and personal with local artists and performers amid prevailing safe distancing measures;
  • Co-creating the future of hybrid work: Teaming up with Samsung and Zoom to introduce a Productivity Data Pass plan offering data-free usage of Zoom, enabling customers to connect to family and colleagues seamlessly and lag-free. This, coupled with Samsung devices such as DeX, will enable customers to set up virtual workstations easily.

Singtel has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ericsson and global industry partners to collaborate on the development and deployment of advanced 5G enterprise solutions in Singapore.  The agreement will allow companies to leverage Ericsson’s technology expertise and Singtel’s 5G network, test facilities and capabilities to innovate solutions and scale them up for global deployment.

Singtel launched its 5G SA network in May, via a partnership with South Korea’s Samsung. The 5G SA sites run on 3.5 GHz spectrum.  Singtel had initially launched its 5G Non-Standalone (NSA) network in September of 2020, using spectrum in the 3.5 GHz frequency as well as existing 2.1 GHz spectrum.

As part of its 5G SA deployment, Singtel has already deployed over 1,000 5G sites across Singapore in strategic locations such as Orchard Road, the Central Business District, Marina Bay, Harbourfront and Sentosa, as well as major residential areas including Sengkang, Punggol, Pasir Ris, Jurong East and Woodlands.

Singtel also demonstrated at the event how 5G is empowering industries and businesses with greater productivity and operational efficiency. Key to this is multi-access edge computing (MEC), an infrastructure that maximizes 5G’s low latency, high bandwidth benefits and enables functions like real-time computing, data storage, data analytics and AI services at the edge. MEC supports massive and faster connectivity of devices, bringing to life more mission critical enterprise applications than before, such as real-time asset tracking and automated quality inspection in factories and smart city planning.

During the event, Guest of Honor Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister of Communications and Information and IMDA’s Chief Executive Mr Lew Chuen Hong were ‘teleported’ into the venue via Singtel’s 5G network, in which their high-resolution likeness were beamed from a separate location. The network’s ultra-low latency meant that Minister Teo and Mr Lew could ‘interact’ seamlessly with Mr Yuen on stage.

Singtel aims to intensify its 5G SA deployment across the island in the coming months as handset manufacturers progressively roll out 5G SA software updates for existing 5G handsets and launch more 5G SA-compatible models in Singapore later this year.


Singtel starts limited deployment of 5G SA; only 1 5G SA endpoint device; state of 5G SA?

Singtel and Ericsson 5G NR SA and dual mode 5G core network

Singapore’s M1 launches True 5G SA network market trial


Dell’Oro: 5G SA indecisions slowing 5G Core network growth

Revenues for the Mobile Core Network (MCN) [1.] market slowed to 6% year-over-year growth in 2Q 2021 after four quarters of double-digit growth, according to a new report by Dell’Oro Group.

Communication Service Providers (CSPs) indecisions about moving forward with 5G Standalone (5G SA/core network are slowing 5G Core market growth (except in China).  It is now expected to decelerate over the next four quarters dropping to 17% year-over-year in 2Q 2022.

Note 1.  The Mobile Core Network is in a transitional stage from 4G to 5G and a new type of core network called the 5G Core Service Based Architecture (SBA). The 5G Core SBA is designed to be a universal core that can be the core for mobile and fixed wireless networks, wireline networks, and Wi-Fi networks. This includes the ability to be the core for 2G/3G/4G, so only one core is necessary for the long term. In addition, the IMS Core will migrate into the 5G Core SBA.

With Network Function Virtualization (NFV) the 5G Core SBA is best served with Cloud-native Network Functions that disaggregates the hardware from the software and operates in a stateless function with the data separated from the control function among other things.


“We attribute the slowdown to the slow uptake of 5G Standalone (SA) networks. CSPs need to make decisions about which direction to take for 5G SA deployments. CSPs have several options to mull over, with new choices that were not available during the switch from 3G to 4G,” stated David Bolan, Research Director at Dell’Oro Group. “One decision CSPs need to make is about the selection of Network Function Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI). NFVI can be procured from a 5G core vendor, a third-party, the public cloud, or another platform like the Rakuten Communications Platform.”

Additional highlights from the 2Q 2021 Mobile Core Network Report:

• The Asia Pacific region accounted for 70% of the revenues for 5G Core as the Chinese SPs continue to build and Japanese SPs begin their buildouts.

• Top vendor ranking remains unchanged based on the four trailing quarters ending in 2Q 2021: Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE, and Mavenir.

• 4G MCN (EPC) revenues are now in continual decline, but still represented 70% of the mix between 4G and 5G.

About the Report:

The Dell’Oro Group Mobile Core Network Quarterly Report offers complete, in-depth coverage of the market with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, shipments, and average selling prices for Evolved Packet Core, 5G Packet Core, Policy, Subscriber Data Management, and IMS Core including licenses by Non-NFV and NFV, and by geographic regions.

To purchase this report, please contact  at [email protected].


Closing Comments:

The slowdown in 5G SA/core network growth should come as no surprise to IEEE Techblog readers.  We’ve pounded the table for a very long time, stating that in the absence of an ITU standard or 3GPP IMPLEMENTATION spec, the 5G SA/core network growth would be slow with many different versions implemented by CSPs.  That will inhibit interoperability and portability of 5G endpoints which have 5G SA software.

Equally important is that ALL 5G services and features (e.g. network slicing, automation, MEC, etc) require a 5G Core network while almost all 5G deployments today are 5G NSA which has a 4G core (EPC) network.



CSPs’ Indecisions Slow 5G Core Growth Except for China, According to Dell’Oro Group

Mobile Core Network

Why It’s Important: Rakuten Mobile, Intel and NEC collaborate on containerized 5G SA core network

RootMetrics touts 5G performance in Korea while users complain; No 5G SA in Korea!

AT&T 5G SA Core Network to run on Microsoft Azure cloud platform


AT&T and Google Cloud Expand 5G and Edge Collaboration

Dell’Oro: MEC Investments to grow at 140% CAGR from 2020 to 2025


Telcos Loss: Private 5G & MEC/5G SA Core Network – Cloud Giants Take Market Share

T-Mobile Announces “World’s 1st Nationwide Standalone 5G Network” (without a standard)

Evaluating Gaps and Solutions to build Open 5G Core/SA networks