AWS plans transcontinental private networks for 2023

AWS Private 5G is just one part of the cloud giant’s private networks business, and private networks are just one part of AWS’s overall telecom business. Still, private wireless is often top of mind for Sameer Vuyyuru, head of worldwide business development for CSPs at AWS.

“One of the more important vectors in terms of customer demand is private networks,” said Vuyyuru. “The areas latching onto private networks are typically remote, with ruggedized infrastructure and massive amounts of data.”

Corporations with large numbers of remote locations are turning to AWS for private network solutions, Vuyyuru said. Transcontinental private networks are coming in 2023, he predicted, adding that energy companies and those that support energy production make up an important part of AWS’s private networks customer base.  

In addition, the public sector is driving demand for private networks. Vuyyuru named state and local governments, educational institutions, and the U.S. Department of Defense as key customers, adding that AWS is working on private networks across roughly 40 different verticals. 

In total, the company has about 190 private networks in production, Vuyyuru said, adding that most are LTE networks.

Edge compute infrastructure running AWS cloud software is foundational to AWS’s private networks play. AWS Snowball, Snowcone and Outpost appliances are among those that can run core network software from one of more than a dozen vendors, Vuyyuru explained. 

“Every single one of our deployments has a core from a partner,” he said. “We do not have a core network nor do we plan to.”

AWS also partners with radio vendors for its private network deployments, and often with public carriers who supply spectrum and network expertise. 

The company highlighted two examples of private network deployments with public carriers. In New Zealand, network operator Spark’s deployment of a Mavenir 5G standalone core solution on AWS Snowball Edge can enable private 5G, Vuyyuru said. In Thailand, dtac has launched a private 5G proof-of-concept with AWS and has plans to market private 5G to enterprise customers. 

“The key benefit of a private network is that it can be custom-built for specific use cases for each corporation,” said dtac’s chief business officer Rajiv Bawa, in a press release. “In particular, we see fantastic potential in vertical industries such as manufacturing, automotive assembly, shipping, logistics, public health, and agriculture.”

In the U.S., Vuyyuru highlighted oil giant Philips 66 and the U.S. Army as flagship private networks customers. AWS is also behind a private 5G network on the campus of California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), where Vuyyuru’s son happens to be a student.

The Cal Poly network is a partnership between AWS and Federated Wireless, both of which are trying to offer their own turnkey private 5G services. Federated Wireless sells its private 5G solution through the AWS Marketplace, and like AWS itself, the company assembles a roster of vendors to meet each customer’s specific needs. Federated Wireless is a Spectrum Access System provider, meaning it deploys sensors and software to mediate access to the shared CBRS spectrum.

AWS has yet to announce details on any customer wins for its private 5G service. At launch, the company named Dish Network and Koch Industries as customers. But Dish has been too busy building its cloud-based public network (in partnership with AWS) to spend much time on private networks. And Koch Industries has decided not to deploy 5G core network software on AWS edge infrastructure, although it does use the AWS public cloud for network management and end-user device authentication.