Deutsche Telekom (DT) has partnered up with AWS and VMware to demonstrate what the German network operator describes as a “globally distributed enterprise network” that combines Deutsche Telekom connectivity services in federation with third party connectivity, compute, and storage resources at campus locations in Prague, Czech Republic and Seattle, USA and an OGA (Open Grid Alliance) grid node in Bonn, Germany.
The goal is to allow customers to book connectivity services directly from DT using a unified interface for the management of the network across its various locations.
The POC demonstrates how the approach supports an optimized resource allocation for advanced AI based applications such as video analytics, autonomous vehicles and robotics. The demonstration use case is video analytics with distributed AI inference.
The global enterprise network integrates Deutsche Telekom private 5G wireless solutions, AWS services and infrastructure, VMware’s multi-cloud telco platform, OGA grid nodes and Mavenir’s RAN/Core functions. Two 5G Standalone (SA) private wireless networks deployed at locations in Prague, Czech Republic and Seattle, USA are connected to a Mavenir 5G Core hosted on AWS Frankfurt Region leveraging the framework of the Integrated Private Wireless on AWS program. The convergence of the global network with local high-speed 5G connectivity is enabled by the AWS backbone and infrastructure.
The 5G SA private wireless network with User Plane Function (UPF) and RAN hosted at the Seattle location, is operating on the VMware Telco Cloud Platform to enable low latency services. The VMware Service Management and Orchestration (SMO) is also deployed in the same location and serves as the global orchestrator. The SMO framework helps to simplify, optimize and automate the RAN, Core and its applications in a multi-cloud environment.
To demonstrate the benefit of this approach, the deployed POC used a video analytics application where cameras were installed at both Prague and Seattle locations and connected through a private wireless global enterprise network. Using this approach, operators were able to run AI components concurrently for immediate analysis and inferencing. This helps demonstrate the ability for customers to seamlessly connect devices across locations using the global enterprise network. Leveraging OGA architectural principles for Distributed Edge AI Networking, an OGA grid node was established on Dell infrastructure in Bonn facilitating seamless connectivity across the European locations.
“As AI gets engrained deeper in the ecosystem of our lives, it necessitates equitable access to compute and connectivity for everyone, everywhere across the globe. Multi-national enterprises are seeking trusted and sovereign compute & connectivity constructs that underpin an equitable and seamless access. Deutsche Telekom is excited to partner with the OGA ecosystem for co-creation on these essential constructs and the enablement of the Distributed Edge AI Networking applications of the future,” – Kaniz Mahdi, Group Chief Architect and SVP Technology Architecture and Innovation at Deutsche Telekom.
“VMware is proud to support this Proof of Concept – contributing know-how and a modern and scalable platform that aims to offer the agility required in distributed environments. VMware Telco Cloud Platform is suited to deliver the compute resources on-demand wherever critical customer workloads are needed. As a founding member of the Open Grid Alliance, VMware embraces both the principles of this initiative and the opportunity to collaborate more deeply with fellow alliance members AWS and Deutsche Telekom to help meet the evolving needs of global enterprise customers.” – Stephen Spellicy, vice president, Service Provider Marketing, Enablement and Business Development, VMware
AWS Integrated Private Wireless with Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, Orange, T-Mobile US, and Telefónica partners
Everyone agrees that Generative AI has great promise and potential. Martin Casado of Andreessen Horowitz recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the technology has “finally become transformative:”
“Generative AI can bring real economic benefits to large industries with established and expensive workloads. Large language models could save costs by performing tasks such as summarizing discovery documents without replacing attorneys, to take one example. And there are plenty of similar jobs spread across fields like medicine, computer programming, design and entertainment….. This all means opportunity for the new class of generative AI startups to evolve along with users, while incumbents focus on applying the technology to their existing cash-cow business lines.”
A new investment wave caused by generative AI is starting to loom among cloud service providers, raising questions about whether Big Tech’s spending cutbacks and layoffs will prove to be short lived. Pressed to say when they would see a revenue lift from AI, the big U.S. cloud companies (Microsoft, Alphabet/Google, Meta/FB and Amazon) all referred to existing services that rely heavily on investments made in the past. These range from the AWS’s machine learning services for cloud customers to AI-enhanced tools that Google and Meta offer to their advertising customers.
Microsoft offered only a cautious prediction of when AI would result in higher revenue. Amy Hood, chief financial officer, told investors during an earnings call last week that the revenue impact would be “gradual,” as the features are launched and start to catch on with customers. The caution failed to match high expectations ahead of the company’s earnings, wiping 7% off its stock price (MSFT ticker symbol) over the following week.
When it comes to the newer generative AI wave, predictions were few and far between. Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said on Thursday that the technology was in its “very early stages” and that the industry was only “a few steps into a marathon”. Many customers of Amazon’s cloud arm, AWS, see the technology as transformative, Jassy noted that “most companies are still figuring out how they want to approach it, they are figuring out how to train models.” He insisted that every part of Amazon’s business was working on generative AI initiatives and the technology was “going to be at the heart of what we do.”
There are a number of large language models that power generative AI, and many of the AI companies that make them have forged partnerships with big cloud service providers. As business technology leaders make their picks among them, they are weighing the risks and benefits of using one cloud provider’s AI ecosystem. They say it is an important decision that could have long-term consequences, including how much they spend and whether they are willing to sink deeper into one cloud provider’s set of software, tools, and services.
To date, AI large language model makers like OpenAI, Anthropic, and Cohere have led the charge in developing proprietary large language models that companies are using to boost efficiency in areas like accounting and writing code, or adding to their own products with tools like custom chatbots. Partnerships between model makers and major cloud companies include OpenAI and Microsoft Azure, Anthropic and Cohere with Google Cloud, and the machine-learning startup Hugging Face with Amazon Web Services. Databricks, a data storage and management company, agreed to buy the generative AI startup MosaicML in June.
If a company chooses a single AI ecosystem, it could risk “vendor lock-in” within that provider’s platform and set of services, said Ram Chakravarti, chief technology officer of Houston-based BMC Software. This paradigm is a recurring one, where a business’s IT system, software and data all sit within one digital platform, and it could become more pronounced as companies look for help in using generative AI. Companies say the problem with vendor lock-in, especially among cloud providers, is that they have difficulty moving their data to other platforms, lose negotiating power with other vendors, and must rely on one provider to keep its services online and secure.
Cloud providers, partly in response to complaints of lock-in, now offer tools to help customers move data between their own and competitors’ platforms. Businesses have increasingly signed up with more than one cloud provider to reduce their reliance on any single vendor. That is the strategy companies could end up taking with generative AI, where by using a “multiple generative AI approach,” they can avoid getting too entrenched in a particular platform. To be sure, many chief information officers have said they willingly accept such risks for the convenience, and potentially lower cost, of working with a single technology vendor or cloud provider.
A significant challenge in incorporating generative AI is that the technology is changing so quickly, analysts have said, forcing CIOs to not only keep up with the pace of innovation, but also sift through potential data privacy and cybersecurity risks.
A company using its cloud provider’s premade tools and services, plus guardrails for protecting company data and reducing inaccurate outputs, can more quickly implement generative AI off-the-shelf, said Adnan Masood, chief AI architect at digital technology and IT services firm UST. “It has privacy, it has security, it has all the compliance elements in there. At that point, people don’t really have to worry so much about the logistics of things, but rather are focused on utilizing the model.”
For other companies, it is a conservative approach to use generative AI with a large cloud platform they already trust to hold sensitive company data, said Jon Turow, a partner at Madrona Venture Group. “It’s a very natural start to a conversation to say, ‘Hey, would you also like to apply AI inside my four walls?’”
“Right now, the evidence is a little bit scarce about what the effect on revenue will be across the tech industry,” said James Tierney of Alliance Bernstein.
Brent Thill, an analyst at Jefferies, summed up the mood among investors: “The hype is here, the revenue is not. Behind the scenes, the whole industry is scrambling to figure out the business model [for generative AI]: how are we going to price it? How are we going to sell it?”
Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) uncertainty is especially challenging for the telecommunications industry which has a history of very slow adaptation to change and thus faces lots of pressure to adopt generative AI in their services and infrastructure. Indeed, Deutsche Telekom stated that AI poses massive challenges for telecom industry in this IEEE Techblog post.
Consulting firm Bain & Co. highlighted that inertia in a recent report titled, “Telcos, Stop Debating Generative AI and Just Get Going” Three partners stated network operators need to act fast in order to jump on this opportunity. “Speedy action trumps perfect planning here,” Herbert Blum, Jeff Katzin and Velu Sinha wrote in the brief. “It’s more important for telcos to quickly launch an initial set of generative AI applications that fit the company’s strategy, and do so in a responsible way – or risk missing a window of opportunity in this fast-evolving sector.”
Generative AI use cases can be divided into phases based on ease of implementation, inherent risk, and value:
Telcos can pursue generative AI applications across business functions, starting with knowledge management:
Separately, a McKinsey & Co. report opined that AI has highlighted business leader priorities. The consulting firm cited organizations that have top executives championing an organization’s AI initiatives, including the need to fund those programs. This is counter to organizations that lack a clear directive on their AI plans, which results in wasted spending and stalled development. “Reaching this state of AI maturity is no easy task, but it is certainly within the reach of telcos,” the firm noted. “Indeed, with all the pressures they face, embracing large-scale deployment of AI and transitioning to being AI-native organizations could be key to driving growth and renewal. Telcos that are starting to recognize this is non-negotiable are scaling AI investments as the business impact generated by the technology materializes.”
Ishwar Parulkar, chief technologist for the telco industry at AWS, touted several areas that should be of generative AI interest to telecom operators. The first few were common ones tied to improving the customer experience. This includes building on machine learning (ML) to help improve that interaction and potentially reduce customer churn.
“We have worked with some leading customers and implemented this in production where they can take customer voice calls, translate that to text, do sentiment analysis on it … and then feed that into reducing customer churn,” Parulkar said. “That goes up another notch with generative AI, where you can have chat bots and more interactive types of interfaces for customers as well as for customer care agent systems in a call. So that just goes up another notch of generative AI.”
The next step is using generative AI to help operators bolster their business operations and systems. This is for things like revenue assurance and finding revenue leakage, items that Parulkar noted were in a “more established space in terms of what machine learning can do.”
However, Parulkar said the bigger opportunity is around helping operators better design and manage network operations. This is an area that remains the most immature, but one that Parulkar is “most excited about.” This can begin from the planning and installation phase, with an example of helping technicians when they are installing physical equipment.
“In installation of network equipment today, you have technicians who go through manuals and have procedures to install routers and base stations and connect links and fibers,” Parulkar said. “That all can be now made interactive [using] chat bot, natural language kind of framework. You can have a lot of this documentation, training data that can train foundational models that can create that type of an interface, improves productivity, makes it easier to target specific problems very quickly in terms of what you want to deploy.”
This can also help with network configuration by using large datasets to help automatically generate configurations. This could include the ability to help configure routers, VPNs and MPLS circuits to support network performance.
The final area of support could be in the running of those networks once they are deployed. Parulkar cited functions like troubleshooting failures that can be supported by a generative AI model.
“There are recipes that operators go through to troubleshoot and triage failure,” Parulkar said “A lot of times it’s trial-and-error method that can be significantly improved in a more interactive, natural language, prompt-based system that guides you through troubleshooting and operating the network.”
This model could be especially compelling for operators as they integrate more routers to support disaggregated 5G network models for mobile edge computing (MEC), private networks and the use of millimeter-wave (mmWave) spectrum bands.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel this week also hinted at the ability for AI to help manage spectrum resources.
“For decades we have licensed large slices of our airwaves and come up with unlicensed policies for joint use in others,” Rosenworcel said during a speech at this week’s FCC and National Science Foundation Joint Workshop. “But this scheme is not truly dynamic. And as demands on our airwaves grow – as we move from a world of mobile phones to billions of devices in the internet of things (IoT)– we can take newfound cognitive abilities and teach our wireless devices to manage transmissions on their own. Smarter radios using AI can work with each other without a central authority dictating the best of use of spectrum in every environment. If that sounds far off, it’s not. Consider that a large wireless provider’s network can generate several million performance measurements every minute. And consider the insights that machine learning can provide to better understand network usage and support greater spectrum efficiency.”
While generative AI does have potential, Parulkar also left open the door for what he termed “traditional AI” and which he described as “supervised and unsupervised learning.”
“Those techniques still work for a lot of the parts in the network and we see a combination of these two,” Parulkar said. “For example, you might use anomaly detection for getting some insights into the things to look at and then followed by a generative AI system that will then give an output in a very interactive format and we see that in some of the use cases as well. I think this is a big area for telcos to explore and we’re having active conversations with multiple telcos and network vendors.”
Parulkar’s comments come as AWS has been busy updating its generative AI platforms. One of the most recent was the launch of its $100 million Generative AI Innovation Center, which is targeted at helping guide businesses through the process of developing, building and deploying generative AI tools.
“Generative AI is one of those technological shifts that we are in the early stages of that will impact all organizations across the globe in some form of fashion,” Sri Elaprolu, senior leader of generative AI at AWS, told SDxCentral. “We have the goal of helping as many customers as we can, and as we need to, in accelerating their journey with generative AI.”
The adoption of cloud computing is accelerating across different customer segments in Southeast Asia, a top Malaysia-based regional executive for Amazon Web Services told Nikkei Asia, as the company competes for business with other global providers descending on the region.
AWS is investing big in the race to develop cloud data centers in Southeast Asia. It announced in March a 25.5 billion ringgit ($6 billion) investment in Malaysia after pouring money into Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. AWS’ investment in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries now stands at $22.5 billion.
Other big names that offer cloud data services have joined the fray, including Microsoft, Alibaba, Tencent, IBM, Oracle, and Google. Microsoft announced a five-year $1 billion investment in 2021 in Malaysia, while Google will be setting up a cloud region — the location where the public cloud data is stored — in the country, one of its 33 such systems worldwide. Malaysia topped real estate consultancy Knight Frank’s inaugural SEA-5 Data Centre Opportunity Index published last month as the most attractive destination for data center investment among five Southeast Asian countries, beating out Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand.
Peter Murray, head of Malaysia and ASEAN Emerging Markets for AWS, described a noticeable pickup in the embrace of cloud technology, including by startups and enterprises in various industries as well as sectors such as financial services, natural resources and energy. “We are seeing significant growth across media and telecommunications as well and we believe that will continue to play a key role in helping Malaysia, ASEAN as well as global organizations who may have operations and be based in Malaysia to increase their productivity,” Murray said in a recent interview. AWS’ strategy amid the intensifying competition is “to build what our customers are telling us is the most important thing to them,” he said. “And 90% of what Amazon builds is driven by what customers are telling us matters the most to them.”
Murray cited two banks in Malaysia AWS has worked with, Bank Islam and Al-Rajhi Bank, that are utilizing its cloud in launching digital banking services. Bank Islam’s Be U digital bank, meanwhile, was developed with AWS’ support to create new digital financial services like mobile applications, loan facilities and services that adhere to Islamic financial regulations.
Carsome, Southeast Asia’s largest integrated car e-commerce platform, is running their services on AWS’ serverless technologies and using its machine learning technology to digitalize and improve customer experience. Carsome, Malaysia’s first unicorn, or startup valued at $1 billion or more, utilized workflow system Amazon SageMaker to streamline customer services by developing machine learning systems that incorporated 175 car inspection points.
AWS is also helping Malaysia’s state-owned oil conglomerate Petronas commercialize its cloud-based logistics services to improve efficiency via the Stear platform, which was launched in November last year and jointly developed with Petronas, professional services company Accenture and AWS. Murray said Stear supports offshore exploration, production and development and is enabling improved fuel management, intelligent routing and better vessel scheduling with near real time voyage traffic tracking.
Murray said Petronas aims to use Stear to reduce carbon emissions associated with logistics operations. “That’s a really exciting future statement and intent that we will have with many customers, the way that they are able to build and run innovative new technology workloads, which are actually able to show a dividend in terms of the reduction in carbon consumption and the increase in energy efficiency as well,” he added.
“We see continued [cloud technology] adoption [and] we see continued growth and skills within the Philippines,” Eric Conrad, company regional managing director for Southeast Asia, told a press conference on the sidelines of the AWS ASEAN Summit in Singapore on Thursday.
AWS announced late last year its plan to launch a local zone in the Philippines, which is part of a bigger undertaking to establish 10 new local zones in the region. The local zones are meant to help AWS customers reduce latency of critical workloads and drive productivity, among others. In the Philippines, AWS provides cloud services to companies like BDO Unibank, Globe, GCash and UnionBank.
The upcoming local zone in the country is a “reflection” of AWS’s optimism in the Philippines, Conrad said. The facility will complement AWS’s existing infrastructure in the Philippines, which include Amazon CloudFront and AWS Outposts.
“In the Philippines, we see continued acceleration in terms of the digitalization and the use of technology to drive sustainability, and good environmental practices,” he added.
“We’re really excited with the momentum that we’re seeing,” Conor McNamara, company managing director for Southeast Asia, said in his keynote address.
In Singapore, AWS has spent over $6.5 billion on infrastructure and jobs in the island state. One of AWS’s clients is Singapore-based superapp Grab, which has powered its mapping system with the help of AWS’s cloud technology.
“We estimate better ETAs, and all of it are powered by data,” Philipp Kandal, chief product officer at Grab, said during the opening session of the AWS Summit.
Meanwhile, AWS has also promised billions of dollars in investments in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Since 2017, the Amazon unit has trained over 1 million people across the region on cloud skills.
“We offer the most complete set of relational and purpose-built databases,” Laura Grit, VP/distinguished engineer at AWS, said during the summit. “Our goal is for you to focus on innovation that matters for your business,” she added.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has signed an agreement this week with LEO satellite internet provider OneWeb to explore potential horizontal and vertical use cases that arise from bundling satellite connectivity with cloud and edge compute resources.
The objective is to develop a satellite constellation management solution as a service, making it available to both corporate clients and those already working in the space sector. OneWeb and AWS will work closely together on four key initiatives:
• Business Continuity: Bundling connectivity with cloud services and edge computing services, delivering continuity and resiliency through an integrated infrastructure backed by the LEO constellation.
• Virtualization of Mission Operations: Supporting virtual mission operations for customers through integrated and customizable solutions.
• Space Data Analytics: Aggregating and fusing new levels of predictive and trending big data analytics through data lakes to support space and ground operations.
• User Terminals & Edge Integration: Deploying seamless cloud to edge solutions with a LEO connected user terminal.
Image Credit: OneWeb
“We are incredibly excited to begin working with AWS to see cloud services extended even closer to the edge thanks to OneWeb’s network. This global agreement will change the market dynamics, with OneWeb’s high-speed, low-latency services powering connectivity that will enable customers to reach even the most remote edges of the world and everywhere in between,” said Maurizio Vanotti, VP for new markets at OneWeb, in a statement.
“We are excited to work with OneWeb in their efforts to provide cloud-based connectivity and deliver innovative services to customers worldwide. AWS is committed to helping customers reimagine space systems, accelerate innovation, and turn data into useful insights quickly. We look forward to working with OneWeb in their efforts to push the edge closer to where their customers need it most,” added Clint Crosier, director of aerospace and satellite solutions at AWS.
The agreement serves to highlight the importance of seamless connectivity to enterprise applications and data from just about anywhere. It also underscores just how far behind Amazon is with its own satellite strategy, Project Kuiper.
Its aim is to launch 1,500 LEO satellites over the next five years, increasing to precisely 3,236 over the longer term. So far though, it has launched zero. Amazon was due to launch a couple of prototypes late last year, but a last-minute change of rocket company pushed everything back. It was also waiting on the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to approve its ‘orbital debris mitigation plan’, which it eventually got in February.
Amazon’s new launch partner, United Launch Alliance (ULA), plans to include those two Kuiper prototypes on the inaugural flight of its brand new Vulcan Centaur rocket, but lift-off won’t take place until 4 May (May the fourth – geddit?) at the earliest.
This is a fairly long-winded way of saying Amazon is still a long way off from offering commercial LEO satellite broadband and cloud services via its own network, and so this OneWeb deal should give it some valuable real-world experience until its own constellation is ready.
This announcement is the latest effort by OneWeb in its mission to bridge the digital divide and bolster innovation through industry collaboration with best-in-class service providers, serving customers from government, telecommunications, airline, and shipping industries.
Meanwhile, AWS and OneWeb will need to have cloud security high on their mutual agenda, judging by some recent rumblings from the U.S. According to a Politico report last week, the White House plans to draw up cloud security regulations designed to prevent hackers from attacking cloud infrastructure. It will also roll out rules that aim to make it harder for foreign hackers to use US-based cloud providers as a staging point from which to conduct attacks.
With so many government bodies and private enterprises becoming increasingly reliant on public cloud for hosting their data and applications, the underlying infrastructure makes for a juicy target. The fear is that a successful attack could cause widespread disruption if important clients like hospitals and ports are suddenly and unexpectedly cut off.
“In the United States, we don’t have a national regulator for cloud. We don’t have a Ministry of Communication. We don’t have anybody who would step up and say, ‘it’s our job to regulate cloud providers,’” said Rob Knake, the deputy national cyber director for strategy and budget, in the Politico report, adding that this needs to change.
While the White House cracks on with working out how to regulate cloud security, it is also pushing ahead with implementing rules drawn up by the previous administration. The Trump-era executive order will impose ‘Know Your Customer’ (KYC) rules on cloud providers in an effort to stop foreign hackers from using US cloud infrastructure as a platform for their attacks.
Swiss network operator Swisscom have announced a proof-of-concept (PoC) collaboration with Ericsson 5G SA Core running on AWS. The objective is to explore hybrid cloud use cases with AWS, beginning with 5G core applications. The plan is for more applications to then gradually be added as the trial continues. With each cloud strategy (private, public, hybrid, multi) bringing its own drivers and challenges the idea here seems to be enabling the operator to take advantage of the specific characteristics of both hybrid and public cloud.
The PoC reconfirms Swisscom and Ericsson’s view of the potential hybrid cloud has as a complement to existing private cloud infrastructure. Both Swisscom and Ericsson are on a common journey with AWS to explore how use cases can benefit telecom operators.
The PoC will examine use cases that take advantage of the particular characteristics of hybrid and public cloud. In particular, the flexibility and elasticity it can offer to customers which can mean deployment efficiencies for use cases where capacity is not constantly needed. An example of this could be when maintenance activities are undertaken in Swisscom’s private cloud, or when there are traffic peaks, AWS can be used to offload and complement the private cloud.
Swisscom had already been collaborating with AWS on migrating its 5G infrastructure towards standalone 5G. In addition, it has also used the hyperscaler’s public cloud platform for its IT environments. Telco concerns linger [1.] around the use of public cloud in telecoms infrastructure (especially the core networks) for some operators, hybrid cloud is seemingly gaining momentum as a transitional approach.
Note 1. Telco concerns over public cloud:
- In a recent survey by Telecoms.com more than four in five industry respondents feared security concerns over running telco applications in the public cloud, including 37% who find it hard to make the business case for public cloud as private cloud remains vital in addressing security issues. This also means that any efficiency gains are offset by the IT environment and the network running over two cloud types.
- Many in the industry also fear vendor lock-in and lack of orchestration from public cloud providers. Around a third of industry experts from the same survey find it a compelling reason not to embrace and move workloads to the public cloud unless applications can run on all versions of public cloud and are portable among cloud vendors.
- There’s also a lack of interoperability and interconnectedness with public clouds. The services of different public cloud vendors are indeed not interconnected nor interoperable for the same types of workloads. This concern is one of the drivers to avoid public cloud, according to some network operators.
–>PLEASE SEE THE COMMENT ON THIS TOPIC IN THE BOX BELOW THE ARTICLE.
Mark Düsener, Executive Vice President Mobile Network & Services at Swisscom, says: “By bringing the Ericsson 5G Core onto AWS we will substantially change the way our networks will be built and operated. The elasticity of the cloud in combination with a new magnitude in automatization will support us in delivering even better quality more efficiently over time. In order to shape this new concept, we as Swisscom believe strategic and deep partnerships like the ones we have with Ericsson and AWS are the key for success.”
Monica Zethzon, Head of Solution Area Core Networks, Ericsson says: “5G innovation requires deep collaboration to create the foundations necessary for new and evolving use cases. This Proof-of-Concept project with Swisscom and AWS is about opening up the routes to innovation by using hybrid cloud’s flexible combination of private and public cloud resources. It demonstrates that through partnership, we can deliver a hybrid cloud solution which meets strict telecoms industry requirements and security while making best use of HCP agility and cloud economy of scale.”
Fabio Cerone, General Manager AWS Telco EMEA at AWS, says: “With this move, Swisscom is opening the door to cloud native networks, delivering full automation and elasticity at scale, with the ability to innovate faster and make 5G impactful to their customers. We are committed to working closely with partners, such as Ericsson, to explore new use cases and strategies that best support the needs of customers like Swisscom.”
“How to deploy software in different cloud environments – at a high level, it is hard making that work in practice,” said Per Narvinger, the head of Ericsson’s cloud software and services unit. “You have hyperscalers with their offering and groups trying to standardize and people trying to do it their own way. There needs to be harmonization of what is wanted.”
AWS Telco Network Builder: managed network automation service to deploy, run, and scale telco networks on AWS
Omdia and Ericsson on telco transitioning to cloud native network functions (CNFs) and 5G SA core networks
In addition to Telco Network Builder, AWS today announced its Integrated Private Wireless that acts as an infrastructure bridge for network operators that want to offer a private network service tapping into AWS’ infrastructure to end users. This allows AWS to connect incoming customers interested in a private network platform with the #1 cloud service provider’s telecom partners.
“We are really just connecting the customer with the telco, then that relationship is between the two of them,” said Jan Hofmeyr,VP of Amazon EC2. Initial telecom partners include Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, Orange, T-Mobile US, and Telefónica. Enterprise customers shopping for private wireless services will be able to purchase an installation from one of those participating operators. “The relationship is directly between the customer and the telco,” Hofmeyr said, noting that the resulting private wireless network will then run atop the AWS cloud.
Hofmeyr said that AWS’ goal is to provide customers with an easy set of options that will allow them to deploy or operate a private network in a manner that meets their needs and abilities. “Right now this is their ask, [it’s] helping us make this onboarding easier, and that’s exactly what we’re focusing on. In the future, we’ll continue to listen to what their needs are and continue to support that,” Hofmeyr added.
This new private network offering is different from AWS’ Private 5G platform that it initially unveiled in late 2021, and has since updated. That platform integrates small cell radio units, AWS’ Outposts servers, a 5G core, and radio access network (RAN) software running on AWS-managed hardware. AWS also handles the spectrum management of this service.
AWS will act as the portal, but telcos will be the managed service providers for the network on behalf of those enterprises or smaller service providers, the company said. As with the telco network builder, AWS will provide a dashboard for monitoring performance and modifying it as needed.
“That’s one of the friction points we saw as we started looking at the private network space,” said Ishwar Parulkar, chief technologist for the telco industry at AWS, in an interview. “There are a lot of enterprise customers who really don’t care about all of this. They just want to be able to use the network and run some applications on top. That’s one of the primary values that we bring with this: lifting that undifferentiated work away from them and managing it in the cloud.”
For Amazon, telcos represent a prime business opportunity: as carriers build new networks with increasing reliance on software and cloud services, Amazon is positioning itself as a tech and cloud partner to help run those services better and more cheaply. It’s been interesting to watch how it has worked to build trust among a group of businesses that have at times been very wary of big tech and the threat of being reduced to “dumb pipes” as tech companies lean on their own architecture and technology advances to build faster and cheaper services that compete directly with what carriers have and plan to roll out. As one example, the company is clear to call these new products “offerings” and not services to make clear that it is not the managed service provider, the carriers’ role.
“We’ve been on this journey for a few years now in terms of really getting the cloud to run telco networks,” said Parulkar. “Our goal here is to make AWS the best place to host 5g networks for both public and private. And on that journey, we’ve been making steady progress.”
For carriers, they are now in a world where arguably communications is just another tech service, so many of them believe that running them with less costs and in more flexible ways will be the key to winning more business, introducing more services and getting better margins. Whether carriers want to wholesale work closer with Amazon, or with any of the cloud providers, for such services, will be the big question.
Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) today announced the general availability of AWS Telco Network Builder, a fully managed service that helps customers deploy, run, and scale telco networks on AWS. Now, communications service providers (CSPs) can use their familiar telecom industry standard language to describe the details of their network (e.g., connection points, networking requirements, compute needs, and geographical distribution) in a template uploaded to the service.
AWS Telco Network Builder translates the template into a cloud-based network architecture and provisions the necessary AWS infrastructure, shortening the deployment of an operational, cloud-configured telco network from days to hours. As customers update their networks, AWS Telco Network Builder automatically adjusts compute and storage resources, allowing CSPs to focus on business operations and deliver new services.
AWS Telco Network Builder provides a centralized dashboard to monitor and manage the network running on AWS infrastructure – whether on premises or in AWS Regions. There are no upfront commitments or fees to use AWS Telco Network Builder, and customers pay only for the AWS services used to manage their network.
CSPs want to take advantage of the cloud’s performance, elasticity, and scale to build modern telco networks that support emerging use cases like smart cities, autonomous vehicles, and robotics. However, designing and scaling a telco network in the cloud can be a laborious, time-intensive process due to the iterative nature and breadth of network use cases, such as business support systems, mobile core, and radio networks. CSPs must first deploy and securely interconnect hundreds of specialized network functions (NFs)—containerized network appliances, like routers and firewalls—across dozens of vendors and thousands of locations, often hardcoding the infrastructure’s parameters when replicating across deployment locations.
Once the NFs are deployed, the CSP must update each NF individually to incorporate new software capabilities or make configuration changes, which is time-consuming work that strains resources. Building and running the network also requires skilled network architects with experience in cloud design and management. Additionally, CSPs must often purchase, setup, and maintain separate monitoring tools to observe the health of their on-premises and cloud-based infrastructures, making it challenging to obtain a complete view of their networks and address issues. As a result, CSPs can sometimes allocate too many resources to the undifferentiated heavy lifting of network management instead of focusing on innovating new experiences.
AWS Telco Network Builder is a fully managed network automation service that enables CSPs to deploy, run, and scale their telco networks on AWS faster and more easily. To start, a CSP populates their network architecture (e.g., routing requirements, location of deployment, specific NFs) as a template in the service’s console using telecom industry standard language, making it intuitive and easy to begin. AWS Telco Network Builder translates the customer’s network specifications into a cloud-based network architecture, streamlining programming requirements across multiple software vendors and accounting for the network’s geographic footprint. AWS Telco Network Builder automatically maps the provided topology to network services, provisions the necessary compute and storage resources, and connects the NFs to create an operational telco network. Customers can then reuse the uploaded templates to replicate that network architecture in new regions. As customers change their network configuration or run software updates, AWS Telco Network Builder handles lifecycle management for the NFs, performs updates to the NFs, and adjusts related infrastructure.
AWS Telco Network Builder is being sold to both public and private network operators, including those with existing network operations as well as those launching new networks.
Jan Hofmeyr, VP of Amazon EC2 said telcos those network functions in the format that telecom network operators have can continue to run their networks in the way they have in the past, even as they shift network functions into the AWS cloud. “It’s really an attempt to make it easier for them,” Hofmeyr said of the new product. “It doesn’t require them to be cloud experts on day one.”
Together, AWS Telco Network Builder and Amazon CloudWatch provide a comprehensive view of the NFs and AWS infrastructure, so customers can efficiently monitor and manage their networks to identify and remediate issues more quickly. AWS Telco Network Builder also integrates with popular third-party, end-to-end orchestrators for CSPs to maintain continuity across existing telco network operations and business systems. With AWS Telco Network Builder, customers only pay for the AWS products and services they use, so they can quickly scale their network based on business requirements.
“The telecom industry is undergoing a transformation as CSPs navigate building their telco networks in the cloud,” said Jan Hofmeyr, vice president of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). “Some of the biggest challenges CSPs face as they look to migrate include manually configuring and then managing these complex networks, which impedes growth and stifles innovation. Groundbreaking in the value it provides to the telecom industry, AWS Telco Network Builder removes the burden of translating a customer’s desired telco network into a cloud architecture, empowering them to easily modernize and quickly scale to meet demand while freeing time and capital to build new offerings, expand coverage, and refocus on invention.”
AWS Telco Network Builder is generally available today in U.S. East (N. Virginia), US West (Oregon), Asia Pacific (Sydney), Europe (Frankfurt), and Europe (Paris), and with availability in additional AWS Regions coming soon.
Amdocs is a leading provider of software and services to communications and media companies. “The current era of 5G cloud-based networks creates an opportunity for communications service providers to deliver accelerated value at unparalleled scale and efficiency,” said Anthony Goonetilleke, group president at Amdocs Technology. “Amdocs Intelligent Networking Suite takes advantage of AWS Telco Network Builder’s support of telecom interfaces to simplify service and network orchestration while bringing agility to network planning, deployment and operations.”
Cloudify is an open source, multi-cloud orchestration platform that packages infrastructure, networking, and existing automation tools into self-service environments. “We’ve observed the challenges the industry faces in bridging the gap between applications and cloud environments,” said Nati Shalom, CTO and founder of Cloudify. “Our work with AWS Telco Network Builder will help communications service providers more easily manage their network services by automating network planning, deployment, and operations activities using standard DevOps and IT service management tools. We are excited to use AWS Telco Network Builder to simplify the orchestration of network workloads using standard European Telecommunications Standards Institute-based interfaces.”
Infosys is a global leader in next-generation digital services and consulting. “The cloud’s scalability and efficiency are key to enabling innovation and reducing the complexity of managing telco network operations, which arms us with the tools to deliver new services for our end users continuously,” said Anand Swaminathan, executive vice president and global industry leader – Communications, Media, and Technology at Infosys. “As we look to build and operate cloud-based networks for our clients with Infosys Cobalt, we are excited to leverage AWS Telco Network Builder to increase the operational efficiency of mobile and private networks, ultimately enabling a streamlined operational model across Multi-G technologies.”
Mavenir is a network software provider building the future of networks with leading 4G, 5G, Core, and IP Multimedia Subsystem cloud-native software. “Managing 4G, 5G, Core, and IP Multimedia Subsystem networks is complex. Often these networks are distributed across the edge continuum,” said Bejoy Pankajakshan, chief strategy officer at Mavenir. “AWS Telco Network Builder allows us to create repeatable network templates that speed up the definition, provisioning, deployment, and upgrading of network services for our customers. The collaboration between Mavenir and AWS offers customers flexibility and agility in the deployment of network functions, furthering us toward our goal of building a single, software-based automated network.”
O2 Telefónica is a leading telecommunications provider in Germany, with around 47 million mobile telephone lines and 2.3 million broadband lines. “As we transition our telco network to the cloud, we strive to achieve greater operational simplicity while accelerating the roll-out of our network and services,” said Bas Hendrikx, head of Cloud Center of Excellence at O2 Telefónica. “We are exploring AWS Telco Network Builder to enable us to leverage automation to deliver new 5G network services faster and manage our networks more efficiently. At O2 Telefónica, we are committed to shaping digital change that benefits everyone, and our investments in building cloud-native networks and using AWS services help to provide greater value and performance to our customers.”
Dish Network in the U.S., Swisscom in Switzerland, and Spark in New Zealand are among the operators that have agreed to put their 5G SA core network functions into the AWS cloud.
To learn more, visit aws.amazon.com/tnb
Mobi, a leading wireless network provider in Hawaii, is now expanding into the continental United States and beyond. Mobi is one of only four full mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in the United States. According to Mike Dano of Light Reading, they have approximately 55,000 customers.
To support a cost-effective, scalable and innovation-friendly expansion strategy, Mobi partnered with Oslo, Norway based Working Group Two (WG2) to move its core network to the cloud. The WG2 mobile core runs cloud-natively on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and empowers Mobi to build a compelling, app-first customer experience on the largest 5G nationwide network (which is assumed to be the AWS cloud native 5G core network). Mobi plans to use its nationwide capabilities to ensure that its Hawaiian customer base won’t need to sign up for another cellular network provider if they move to the continental U.S.
A pilot solution goes live today – January 17, 2022.
By choosing a scalable and flexible cloud architecture, Mobi can offer more competitive rates and faster time-to-market with new services. The Network-as-a-Service approach reduces the time it takes to develop and deploy new features and upgrades. In contrast to legacy solutions, which include only a few network updates per year, Mobi will benefit from continuous, daily upgrades. Further, with a mobile core from WG2 that is agnostic to any generation of wireless, Mobi can future-proof its network with no end-of-life and continuous maintenance and support.
With a programmable, cloud-native core, Mobi will gain unprecedented flexibility, and will realize significantly faster time-to-market with new services. Once the WG2 mobile core is integrated with the radio network, Mobi can leverage simple APIs to determine which services to activate for every SIM or user. The network is delivered fully as-a-service and the cost is based on consumption, defined by the number and type of users/SIM cards, changing as needs and traffic fluctuate. This allows for lower barriers of entry, and a core network that can scale from single users to hundreds of millions of users.
WG2 says their core offers a full MNO core for 4G and 5G, as well as a full MVNO functionality for 2G/3G. This allows operators to build full modern 4G/5G core networks while leveraging national roaming for 2G/3G where necessary. WG2’s 4G/5G/IMS mobile core network provides Mobi with a web-based portal, through which the company can quickly and easily manage existing services and offer new ones. The WG2 core offers the full set of capabilities related to authentication and provisioning, voice, messaging, and data services.
Justen Burdette, CEO of Mobi:
“Our ambition is to disrupt and challenge the status quo in the wireless industry by delivering a seamless, app-first, and engaging customer experience. By working with WG2 and AWS, we not only get access to a scalable, secure, and future-proof core network, we also improve our ability to meet the demands of our customers. It’s all about making it simple to join, affordable to use, and fun to explore what our network can offer. We’re building a brand that resonates with our customers by working with a strong ecosystem of partners.”
“We’re able to do a modern, cloud-based, AWS-focused core from WG2. It’s a sight to behold.”
“You have complete API [application programming interface] control of the core. That makes it really amazing for us because we built our stack around APIs.”
Erlend Prestgard, CEO of WG2:
“Mobi is a standout example of a carrier that’s ready to unlock the benefits of a network-as-a-service, achievable with a consistent, programmable mobile core running on the cloud. This allows them to go live in new geographical markets in record time. The simplicity of the as-a-service operating model means that Mobi can focus on meeting customer expectations and spend their time dreaming about innovation, rather than managing complexity. We’re truly excited about joining Mobi on this journey.”
Fabio Cerone, Managing Director EMEA, Telco Business Unit at AWS:
“Embracing the cloud helps carriers simplify network operations, deploy networks more rapidly, scale more easily – while still retaining full control over the network and gaining additional agility and innovation capabilities. Now the core network is only one API away from the global community of developers, which can help deliver new value for Mobi’s customers.”
As an app-first company, wholly focused on user experience, Mobi embraces an open, API-enabled core network approach. Access to WG2’s global ecosystem of developers offers Mobi a selection of pre-integrated, ready-to-deploy applications for voice, messaging and data services, built by WG2’s development partners from all over the world. Following the continental U.S. rollout, Mobi also plans to leverage the same model to expand to markets including Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Mobi, Inc. launched as the regional wireless provider for Hawaii in 2005 — becoming the first carrier in the United States to offer affordable, simple, unlimited mobile service at a time when activation, overage, and hidden fees were the norm. Anyone can switch to Mobi in just seconds using the Mobi app, Apple Pay, and eSIM — with smart, friendly Mobi customer care geeks ready to help at any time digitally and at Mobi stores in Hawaii. All Mobi team members are proudly represented by the Communications Workers of America (the CWA). Learn more at mobi.com, or on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
About Working Group Two:
Working Group Two has rebuilt the mobile core for simplicity, innovation, and efficiency – leveraging the web-scale playbook and operating models. Today, Working Group Two innovation enables MVNO, MNO, and Private Network Operators a secure, scalable, and reliable telco connectivity backbone that scales across all generations of mobile technologies. Our mission is to create programmable mobile networks to allow our customers and their end users to create more valuable and useful products and services.
Working Group Two
+47 9909 0872
In an AWS re-Invent Leadership session titled “AWS Wherever You Need It,” [1.] Wayne Duso, vice president of engineering and product at AWS, expressed similar goals. “Today, customers want to use AWS services in a growing range of applications, operating wherever they want, whenever they require. And they’re striving to do so to deliver the best possible customer experience they can, regardless of where their customers or users happen to be located. One way AWS helps customers accomplish this is by bringing the AWS value to our regions, to metro areas, to on-premises, and to the furthest and evolving edge.”
Note 1. You can watch the 1 hour “AWS Wherever You Need It” session here (top right).
“We’re helping customers by providing the same experience from cloud to on-prem to the evolving edge, regardless of where your application may need to reside,” Duso explained. “AWS is enabling customers to use the same infrastructure, services and tools to accomplish that. And we do that by providing a continuum of consistent cloud-scale services that allow you to operate seamlessly across this range of environments.”
Duso explained how AWS is enabling edge computing by adding capabilities for mobile and IoT devices. “There are more than 14 billion smart devices in the world today. And it’s often in things we think about, like wristwatches, cameras, cellphones and speakers,” he said.
“But more often, it’s the stuff that you don’t see every day powering industries of all types and for all types of customers.” Duso cited the example of Hilcorp, a leading energy producer, which is using smart devices to monitor the health of its wells, optimize production and proactively predict failures so it can minimize capital expenditures.
With IoT devices becoming common among energy providers, edge computing is on the rise to handle the volume of data these devices generate. “Now, AWS IoT provides a deep and broad set of services and partner solutions to make it really simple to build secure, managed and scalable IoT applications,” Duso added.
Duso pointed to Couchbase as a use case for flexible AWS services: “Couchbase is a non-SQL database company that uses AWS hybrid edge services such as Local Zones, Wavelength, Outposts and the Snow Family to deploy its applications and highly scalable, reliable and performant environments to reduce latency by over 18 percent for its customers.” Each of these AWS managed services enables Couchbase to move data from the edge to the cloud or manage and process it where it’s generated.
“What we built on these AWS compute environments was a highly distributed, managed or self-managed database,” Duso explained. “For the cloud, an internet gateway for accessing that data securely over the web and synchronizing that data down to the edge. And that works across cloud, edge and on the offline, first-compute environments.”
“Our goal is I want to make AWS the best place to run 5G networks. That is the overarching objective. How can I make AWS, whether we are running it in the region, in a Local Zone, on an Outposts, on a Snow device, how do we make it the best place to run a 5G network, and then provide that infrastructure.”
AWS’ 5G network efforts include a cloud architecture that can support an operator’s 5G SA core network and applications, similar to what AWS is doing with greenfield U.S. wireless network operator Dish Network. Sidd Chenumolu, VP of technology development and network services at Dish Network, recently explained that the wireless carrier’s 5G core network was using three of AWS’ four public regions, was deployed in “multiple availability zones and almost all the Local Zones, but most were deployed with Nokia applications across AWS around the country.”
AWS is also working with Verizon to support a part of that carrier’s public MEC system. This includes use of AWS’ Outposts and Wavelengths, the latter of which AWS recently expanded in the United Kingdom with Vodafone.
Hofmeyr continued, “I think you have a spectrum (of different wireless carrier networks), from the total greenfields like what we did with Dish to the large tier-ones. The one thing that’s common across the board is the desire to modernize and become more cloud-like. That is common. Everyone wants that. Each one has a very unique job. There’s not one way that they all are executing in the same way. They’re taking this one workload and then building, so all of them are focusing on different workloads in the network and put it in the cloud.”
In conclusion Hofmeyr said, “I think all over the edge we find these use cases for which purpose-built systems were designed to handle that. And our goal is how do you make that available in the cloud.”