The 5G core network is going to the public cloud, a big change is coming?

Recently, the trend of public cloud ON 5G core network has become more and more intense.

We have roughly calculated that since June 2021, five operators around the world, AT&T, Dish, Telefónica Germany, and Swisscom, have announced that they will migrate their 5G core networks to the Azure or AWS cloud.

At the same time, Ericsson and Nokia, two telecom equipment manufacturers, also announced an alliance with Google Cloud and AWS to jointly build cloud-native 5G core network solutions.

Among them, in July 2021, the US operator AT&T announced that it would migrate its 5G core network to the Microsoft Azure cloud, pushing this trend to a climax.

According to the agreement, Microsoft acquired AT&T’s network cloud platform technology and operations team, on which AT&T’s 5G core network runs. In the later stage, AT&T will no longer continue to develop network cloud software, but will be fully taken over by Microsoft for development and operation.

As a leading global operator with nearly 175 million connections, AT&T’s migration of its 5G core network to Azure’s cloud infrastructure is a groundbreaking event in the telecom industry.

AT&T is a pioneer in the transformation of network cloudification. It started the journey of network virtualization as early as 2014, and this time AT&T handed over the carrier-grade underlying cloud platform that it spent 7 years to develop to Microsoft, which will undoubtedly show the industry The message is that it is feasible to run the 5G core network on the public cloud, which guarantees the stability and flexibility of the network, and is more cost-effective.

According to industry insiders, this major move by AT&T will accelerate the migration of the global 5G core network to the cloud, and even accelerate the separation of software and hardware in telecom networks.

With the increasing trend of public cloud on 5GC, people can’t help but think, entering the 5G era, why do operators and equipment manufacturers choose to cooperate with public cloud giants one after another?

As we all know, compared with previous generations of mobile networks, the 5G core network architecture is the most open and flexible. It is designed based on the SBA architecture and realizes the decoupling of software and hardware, so that network functions can run flexibly in public clouds, private clouds and hybrid clouds. superior.

At the same time, from the 2G to 4G era, the network and the application are disjoint like two parallel lines. The network does not know the application, and the application does not know the network. In the 5G era, network capabilities can be opened to third parties through APIs, so that ISVs and the ecosystem can Customize applications according to your own business needs, and can optimize applications according to network behavior, thus realizing the integration of network and application for the first time.

This means that 5G is not only a network, but also an innovation platform, an ecosystem. Only operators, public cloud providers, application developers, vertical industries and other parties cooperate and complement each other to strengthen the platform, expand the ecosystem, and enable rich cross-industry applications.

From the operator’s point of view, cooperating with cloud giants can not only greatly save the high cost of self-developed cloud platforms, but also make full use of the cloud giants’ technology, R&D strength and developer ecology to accelerate 5G application innovation and services Delivery, more agile and more flexible to meet the diverse application needs of the 5G era.

Imagine if these 5GC+ public clouds can be successfully implemented, and if more and more 5GCs are shared with the cloud in the future, it will bring earth-shaking changes to the core network market structure, and even bring a big change to the entire telecommunications industry.