Telefónica Germany, Nokia, AWS claim 5G cloud core first

  • O2 Telefónica says “selected customers” will be able to benefit from the cloud core when using the operator’s standalone 5G network

  • The operator aims to move “at least 30-40%” of its customer base by 2025-2026

  • A Reuters report suggested that O2 Telefónica first worked with AWS and Sweden-based Ericsson, and then swapped to Nokia and AWS

Telefónica Deutschland (O2 Telefónica) hailed what it described as a first for an existing telecoms operator: the launch of a new 5G core network that is built entirely in the cloud, specifically the AWS cloud. O2’s 5G Cloud Core uses cloud-native 5G core architecture from Finland-based Nokia and is run in the AWS cloud computing environment.

While a small handful of greenfield operators are building cloud-native 5G networks from scratch, namely 1&1 in Germany, Dish in the United States, and Rakuten Mobile in Japan, moving an existing network and customers to the cloud is a somewhat different proposition for more established operators.operators

According to O2 Telefónica, “selected customers” will be able to benefit from the cloud core when using the operator’s standalone 5G network, dubbed 5G Plus. Around 1 million 5G customers will be moved to the cloud core in the first phase.

“With the new 5G Cloud Core, we are moving away from traditional architectures and instead focusing on modern, high-performance, and efficient network technologies. In doing so, we are relying on the quality and global expertise of Nokia and AWS,” commented by Mallik Rao, chief technology and information officer of O2 Telefónica.

Raghav Sahgal, president of cloud and network services at Nokia, also noted that deployment is the “first of its kind for an existing communications service provider” and enables “greater network agility and service offerings.”

Writing on LinkedIn, Fabio Cerone, general manager telecom EMEA at AWS, said this was a “big day” for AWS in the telecoms industry. “It will bring O2 Telefónica the ability to dynamically scale and allocate 5G network capabilities to meet customer needs, as well as the needs of the new applications that will run on top of the new core,” he said.

AWS vice president Jan Hofmeyr told Reuters that the cloud services provider wants to “make it a business to run telco workloads” and expects more deals with other operators in the next 12 months.

In a blog, AWS said it is increasingly seeing more telecom operators “recognizing the value of moving network workloads to the cloud.” It pointed to the announcement by NTT DoCoMo earlier this year that it will work with AWS to commercially deploy its 5G open radio access network (RAN) in Japan, and also noted it is working with Dish.

Mix it up

Also in an interview with Reuters, Rao said he aims to move “at least 30-40%” of the O2 Telefónica customer base by 2025-2026, once the cloud core had been “working for at least one to two quarters.” The operator has around 45 million mobile customers in Germany.

The Reuters report additionally suggested that O2 Telefónica first worked with AWS and Sweden-based Ericsson, and then swapped to Nokia and AWS.

Indeed, in 2020 the operator had announced it was working with AWS to virtualize its 5G core and would rely on 5G core and orchestration components from the Swedish vendor.

However, O2 Telefónica said there was no collaboration with Ericsson and AWS regarding the 5G cloud core, so there had been no swap.

The operator noted that Ericsson is the supplier of its classic 5G core network, and pointed to 5G cloud core network tests with Ericsson and Google, as well as a cooperation between O2 Telefónica and Ericsson on the RAN as part of a joint cloud RAN/open RAN test.

Overall, O2 Telefónica said it is pursuing a multi-cloud and multi-vendor strategy. Indeed, the operator just launched its first virtual RAN and open RAN site in collaboration with Samsung.

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