Amazon launches AWS Private 5G using CBRS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced a private 5G service for enterprises last year, and it’s now becoming generally available.

In a blog post Thursday, AWS sought to demonstrate how easy it is for an enterprise to install, operate and scale their own private mobile network without any specialized expertise. It’s so easy that it can be done in a matter of days, according to AWS Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr.

Despite its moniker – AWS Private 5G – it isn’t yet 5G, as TechCrunch pointed out. The solution uses the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) General Authorized Access (GAA) spectrum tier and even though the specs for CBRS 5G are written, the equipment based on 5G isn’t ready for prime time, so it’s initially using 4G LTE. Of course, the gear is “5G ready,” so it’s already sort of baked in.

The current release of AWS Private 5G supports only an order of one small-cell radio unit and up to 100 SIMs per network site. Support for additional small-cell radio units and a higher number of SIMs is coming soon, according to a FAQs page.

AWS charges an hourly rate based on the number of radio units that a customer orders, with a minimum commitment of 60 days. Each radio unit is billed at $10/hour.

AWS Private 5G service is available in US East (Ohio), US East (N. Virginia), and US West (Oregon) AWS Regions.

Advantages over Wi-Fi 

AWS points out that a private mobile network provides several benefits over Wi-Fi, such as avoiding the network congestion issues that Wi-Fi has on unlicensed spectrum.

Private mobile radio technology also is built on the concept of a scheduler, so each device gets radio resources when it needs it. “Having dedicated radio resources means that you can provide a higher quality of service to each device. Wi-Fi is contention-based, and it cannot provide the same granularity of quality of service (QoS),” AWS said.

In addition, private mobile is “inherently more secure, because the radio interface between device and radio is encrypted, and the device uses a SIM for authentication.”

Private networking is a big area for wireless carriers, but the CEOs of AT&T and Verizon downplayed the impact of AWS in the space after the news was first announced. AWS VP of Engineering Bill Vass told Fierce it sees itself “as a partner, not a competitor” to operators when asked about its Private 5G offer.

Dell’Oro Group analysts expect the private wireless LTE/5G small cell market to reach $0.8 billion to $1.0 billion by 2026.