Amazon has been working on ramping up how it works with telecoms carriers as customers and partners — an ambition pushed in no small part by slowing growth for cloud services overall at AWS and its big rivals Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. Now, one week ahead of MWC in Barcelona — one of the biggest trade gatherings in the telecoms industry — AWS is announcing two big products in aid of that: a “Telco Network Builder” for carriers to use its cloud to build and scale 5G and other telecoms networks, and a service to use AWS to build and manage private wireless networks for enterprises.
The two new services, which Amazon describes as “offerings,” are meant to complement (and give a head start on) news that AWS plans to put out next week at MWC, detailing how it’s working with carriers and working on building more trust with them with tools to give a third-party access to networks to build services and more.
The telco network builder will see Amazon opening up its cloud network so that telcos can plan, run, and scale 5G, 4G, and other networks more quickly, by turning them into managed services banked around AWS infrastructure.
According to AWS, carrier customers will use a template to specify parameters such as connection points, networking requirements, compute, and geographies, which will then be run through an automated engine to create a network architecture. That architecture will (unsurprisingly) include AWS compute and other AWS resources, with the added benefit that the process can be completed, adjusted, and updated in hours, rather than the days, weeks, or months that it typically takes to provision networks. The idea here is that carriers must work in more dynamic ways these days, whether it’s to increase network capacity during specific event-based surges due to people taking up (or quitting…) a new service, or it’s to pick up business customers and work on quick turnarounds for them.
On top of this is the “burden” of 5G: It’s been a big investment to build out the latest generation of network infrastructure, so carriers are now driving hard on building new services to generate revenue from those networks, with one of their main targets being B2B and enterprise opportunities. The idea here is that making it easier to build those networked services will reduce costs. It’s not quite “build it and they will come” (a mantra that spelled disaster for the telco industry 20 years ago), but it’s building the ability to build fast in case they come.
The second product is, in that regard, a continuation of that theme. It takes some of the makings of the network builder and applies them to how carriers can provision private wireless networks. These are essentially mini service providers of their own, which are often used by smaller carriers or larger enterprises that run their business data and voice networks like small telecoms service providers in themselves. The big selling point for private wireless networks is that they are potentially more robust, more cost-effective, and more secure than Wi-Fi networks.
Typically, a private network stitches together network capacity from multiple carriers in multiple regions. AWS has a massive global footprint for its cloud business, which gives it a good basis for building and provisioning that, and it also already has a number of carrier partners signed up to underpin that with regional network capacity, including T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica, and KDDI, with more reportedly coming on and getting announced alongside these.