T Mobile is first U.S. wireless provider in new AWS private wireless program

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is teaming up with wireless service providers to provide more reliable private wireless networks than (they say) Wi-Fi can provide, and T-Mobile US is one of them.

In fact, T-Mobile put out a press release today announcing that it is the first U.S. wireless provider to work with AWS to deliver customizable 5G edge compute offerings in the new program.

A year ago at MWC Barcelona, AT&T announced a deal with Microsoft to develop AT&T Private 5G Edge. Verizon offers private Mobile Edge Compute (MEC) and public MEC with AWS, but it’s not currently using AWS to deploy private 5G solutions, a Verizon spokeswoman said, explaining that other vendors are providing services for its Private 5G solutions.

Integrated Private Wireless on AWS

According to AWS, its new Integrated Private Wireless program combines private 4G and 5G wireless technologies from leading telcos with AWS services across AWS Regions, Local Zones and Outposts, as well as the AWS Snow Family. The program will leverage AWS’s community of more than 100,000 partners from more than 150 countries – making it a good match to promote at the international MWC Barcelona trade show next week.

The program was built in close collaboration with its initial telco partners, including Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile, KDDI, Orange and Telefonica Tech, to provide enterprises with easy and fast ways to deploy private wireless offerings, AWS said. 

“T-Mobile has been working to solve the complexity in this space for customers with our 5G Advanced Network Solutions. T-Mobile’s 5G ANS portfolio gives businesses the optimal level of performance they need with 5G public, hybrid, or private network options. Now, as the first U.S. provider to collaborate with AWS on customizable solutions via the Integrated Private Wireless on AWS portal, we make it even easier for customers to get what they need to run their business,” said Mishka Dehghan, SVP of Strategy, Product and Solutions Engineering in the T-Mobile Business Group, in a statement.

By way of example, T-Mobile cited monitoring worker safety on remote industrial campuses, performing predictive maintenance on manufacturing equipment and ensuring faster aircraft turnaround times at airports.

AWS said it’s making it easy for enterprise customers to discover private wireless offerings. Using the Integrated Private Wireless on AWS portal, customers can explore private wireless offerings from participating telcos, browsing by industry or use case.

New kind of service from AWS

How is this different from the AWS Private 5G offering the company launched in 2022?

Private wireless is a very large space, both in terms of network topology and use cases, said AWS Chief Technologist of Telecommunications Ishwar Parulkar. AWS Private 5G, which AWS announced in late 2021, targets smaller enterprises that use unlicensed spectrum like CBRS.

Those use cases don’t require moving between public and private networks, and they don’t need a large mobile network behind them. That’s a large space in and of itself, he said.

This latest offering addresses use cases where customers want to use licensed spectrum and there’s a need to move between public and private networks. For example, a customer might require a network to cover a campus or part of a city, and that’s where mobile operators contribute their expertise.  

“What we’re doing in this case is bringing operators into that equation, where they can bring in their assets,” he told Fierce. But the whole thing is still managed on AWS, the same as with the managed services. The monitoring and network services run in the cloud, but it’s offered by the telecom provider.

“The way we are approaching it is solving the problem of automation of networks,” he said. “Our objective here is for AWS to be the best place to host 5G networks, public and private.”

Separately, AWS announced the general availability of AWS Telco Network Builder, a fully managed service that helps customers deploy, run and scale telco networks on AWS. O2 Telefónica in Germany said it’s exploring AWS Telco Network Builder to deliver new 5G network services faster and manage its networks more efficiently.

Telcos and the cloud

The move to more software-defined networking (SDN) started years ago in the telecom space, extending the expertise developed in the computer industry.

Parulkar previously was chief architect for telcos at Cisco Systems. In the 2015-2016 timeframe, the conversation about SDN and virtualization really kicked in, and it was becoming evident that the cloud is where everything was going. He joined AWS in 2016.

Has it taken longer than he thought for the telecom world to come around?

“I think it took the time I thought it would take. I’m very encouraged” by the fact that it’s happening and accelerating now, he said. “But it does require a mind shift as well. It’s not just about technology. It’s really starting to think in a different way. Instead of running appliances, you’re now software oriented,” with the network in the cloud. It’s all better but it’s a different way of looking at it, he said.

Part of it is also training telco people about the cloud and writing applications and software in a cloud-oriented manner. AWS has been working with some operators to help them on the journey to be more knowledgeable and hands-on with the cloud.

While thus far a lot of the movement has been with the largest operators, both in the U.S. and worldwide, he said he believes the smaller carriers in the U.S. and elsewhere will be a big market for the cloud. It’s natural because the whole idea is to make things simpler and automatic, and that’s why it’s appealing to them. They stand to benefit from the cloud in a big way, he said.