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AWS launches Private 5G – an automated, managed network out of the box

Contributing Editor Annie Turner looks at November’s biggest moves in network automation.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced AWS Private 5G, a new managed service to help enterprises set up and scale private 5G mobile networks. AWS says it takes days, rather than months to set up.

Via the AWS console, customers specify where they want to build a mobile network and the network capacity needed for their devices. AWS delivers and maintains the required small cell radio units, servers, 5G core and radio access network (RAN) software, and subscriber identity modules (SIM cards).

AWS Private 5G automates the set-up 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, and customers only pay for the network capacity and throughput they request.

Customers can start with small networks and few devices using AWS Private 5G, analyse their network needs once it is in operation, and leverage the elasticity and pay-as-you-go pricing of AWS to scale their private mobile network as they add more devices.

A ‘preview’ of the service is in use by DISH Network, Amazon Fulfillment and Koch Global Services, “among other customers and partners” according to AWS. It will soon be available in other countries, either direct from AWS or via its operator partners according to AWS’ CEO, Adam Selipsky, speaking at the AWS Re:Invent 2021 event on 30 November.

CityFibre, the UK’s largest independent full-fibre provider, announced the deployment of its first 800 Gbps backbone ring in partnership with Ciena. The network operator says this is the first phase of its national, multi-terabit, dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM) network deployment and a milestone in its mission to pass up to 8 million premises in the UK.

The new backbone will support “virtually unlimited data transfer requirements” and enable “a fully automated, cloud-based platform with open access API integration,” according to CityFibre. As well as boosting regional aggregation of capacity, the use of colourless, directionless, contentionless (CDC) optical technology means that in future CityFibre can offer Ethernet and wavelength services of up to 400 Gbps for wholesale.

David Tomalin, Group CTO at CityFibre, said, “We are already using full CDC in all our major nodes and will scale this across our entire backbone network over time. Its automation capability will enable additional rapid network restoration in the event of fibre or hardware failure, plus greater flexibility to grow capacity, balance, and re-programme our network based on the evolving needs of our customers.”

Telefónica and Wipro, a global IT, consulting and business process services company, are to “initiate the transformational journey towards network operations”. They will introduce continuous integration, continuous deployment and continuous testing (CI/CD/CT) in Telefonica’s German and Brazilian markets, and might extend the work to Spain and the UK. These are Telefonica’s four key markets, as outlined in its strategy in late in 2019.

The solution will be developed by Wipro using open-source tools and built to evolve and adapt to future technological changes. Common repository test tools will be used and could be integrated with the CI/CD/CT pipeline in future. The two companies will work together to automate network operations thereby enabling the transition the telco cloud and adoption of virtualised network functions.

The framework they create will allow them to industrialise the process so that it can scale to handle greater volume and complexity of network functions and deploy an Agile methodology in parallel to the wider industry.

The Broadband Forum released a new version of YANG to improve the interoperability of network automation. Craig Thomas, VP, Strategic Marketing and Business Development at Broadband Forum, noted, “Operators are constantly looking for ways to make their operations more efficient and cost-effective. Automating the configuration and control of network elements is one way of doing this but as a growing concept, ensuring interoperability has been and continues to be a key concern.

“This work addresses the challenge by ensuring interoperability between network components of different vendors to allow effective automation, defining YANG data models for functionality which is common across access network elements supporting various physical layer technologies.”

Hence this latest release builds on YANG data models, improving quality of service for large scale deployments and statistics for debugging services. It also lays the groundwork the introduction of a set of common YANG modules and types that will be used by the specification. The modules enable efficient management of various broadband services across any access technology.

The size of the global network automation market is predicted to reach $22.58 billion by 2027 growing at a compound annual growth rate of 24.2% between 2020 and 2027. In 2019, the global market was worth $4 billion. The report, from Fortune Business Insights, reckons is attributable to surging investment in the development and implementation of advanced technologies and more connected devices that favour adoption of network automation solutions globally.

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