Throughout 2021, hyperscalers have put telcos in the shade in the provision of private 5G networks, and this trend looks set to accelerate, with cloud giant Amazon Web Services (AWS) announcing a new service designed to deploy and scale private networks in their facilities in days instead of months.
As it was launching AWS Private 5G, the company noted that more and more enterprises need to collect, analyse and transfer massive amounts of data within their operations from the large number of connected sensors and edge devices prevalent in today’s enterprises. AWS also said customers want to use cellular technologies such as 5G for their on-premise connectivity needs because it offers long-range, extended outdoor coverage, device mobility, and reliable network behaviour.
It added that cellular technologies such as 5G also allow customers to connect more devices and more cost-effectively collect and transfer data with greater flexibility and reliability than current wired and wireless networking technologies.
Overall, AWS believes customers like to build their own private 5G networks to take advantage of the reliability, better coverage, lower latency and higher bandwidth they provide and to be able to scale their networks as they add more devices. But it believes that currently, most private mobile network deployments require customers to invest considerable time, money and effort to design their network for anticipated peak capacity and to procure and integrate software and hardware components from multiple suppliers.
Other stumbling blocks that AWS identified include the potential of customers having to undertake another lengthy procurement process to increase network capacity if the number of connected devices or network traffic grows beyond the capacity the network can handle, and also they may need to manage different security policies and systems for each type of device connected to a private mobile network, which makes integration with IT management systems difficult.
Another key issue it flagged was that current private mobile network pricing models charge for each connected device and make it cost-prohibitive for use cases that involve thousands of connected devices.
Because of these barriers, most enterprises are unable to deploy and operate private mobile networks, said AWS. To rectify these issues, AWS Private 5G comprises a managed service designed to help enterprises set up and scale private 5G mobile networks in their facilities in days instead of months.
Working from within an AWS console, customers specify the network capacity needed for their devices, and the service delivers and maintains the small cell radio units, servers, 5G core and radio access network (RAN) software, and subscriber identity modules (SIM cards) required to set up a private 5G network and connect devices.
AWS Private 5G automates the setup and deployment of the network and scales capacity on demand to support additional devices and increased network traffic. There are no upfront fees or per-device costs with AWS Private 5G, and customers only pay for the network capacity and throughput that they request.
AWS said enterprises can now procure, deploy and scale their own 5G mobile network in days instead of months, with users specifying a coverage area within a geographic location where they want to deploy a private 5G network, along with the amount of traffic they expect the network to handle.
AWS delivers and maintains the pre-integrated small cell radio units, servers, 5G core and RAN software and SIM cards needed for operating the network – eliminating the need to procure, integrate and maintain hardware and software from multiple third-party suppliers. Once the equipment is installed and powered on, AWS Private 5G automatically configures and deploys the mobile network.
“Many of our customers want to leverage the power of 5G to establish their own private networks on-premise, but they tell us that the current approaches make it time-consuming, difficult and expensive to set up and deploy private networks,” said David Brown, vice-president, EC2 at AWS. “With AWS Private 5G, we are extending hybrid infrastructure to customers’ 5G networks to make it simple, quick and inexpensive to set up a private 5G network. Customers can start small and scale on-demand, pay as they go, and monitor and manage their network from the AWS console.”
Among such customers is Koch Global Services. With 122,000 global employees and locations in nearly every US state and 60 countries, Koch companies are said to offer opportunities to improve life’s necessities, such as food, clothing, water, transportation and technology. “Koch sees great potential in private 5G networking,” said Matt Hoag, chief technology officer (CTO) at Koch Business Solutions. “However, there are significant challenges in the do-it-yourself approach. It can be complex, time-consuming and expensive, both in initial setup cost as well as ongoing service charges.
“In collaboration with industry software vendors like Mavenir and global communication service providers, AWS Private 5G can help solve real challenges that enterprises face in deploying private cellular networks around the world. We believe that this combination will also encourage expansion of the cellular industrial IoT ecosystem and accelerate the delivery of disruptive private connectivity solutions for our customers.”
US-based connectivity company DISH Network Corporation is another AWS Private 5G customer, using the technology to deliver private enterprise networks to customers. “AWS’s innovative platform allows us to better serve our consumer wireless customers, while unlocking new business models for enterprise customers across a wide range of industry verticals,” said DISH chief commercial officer Stephen Bye.
“Our ability to support dedicated, private 5G enterprise networks allows us to give customers the scale, resilience and security needed to support a wide variety of devices and services, unlocking the potential of Industry 4.0.”