Microsoft buys Metaswitch, advancing its telecom ambitions

Microsoft is buying Metaswitch Networks, a U.K. company that develops software for both fixed and wireless telecommunications networks. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition follows quickly on the heels of Microsoft’s recent purchase of Affirmed Networks, which closed on April 23, 2020.

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Microsoft sees both acquisitions as important for “the convergence of cloud and communication networks," according to Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure Networking, in a blog post today.

“Metaswitch’s complementary portfolio of ultra-high-performance, cloud-native communications software will expand our range of offerings available for the telecommunications industry,” wrote Khalidi.

Microsoft appears to be advancing a goal to work more with both wired and wireless service providers. Today it mentioned exploring opportunities in the areas of 5G, radio access networks, core networks and OSS/BSS modernization.

Recently, Microsoft announced the preview of its Azure Edge Zones, which are local extensions of the Microsoft Azure cloud.

RELATED: Microsoft, AT&T create edge compute zones

Microsoft is working with AT&T on its Azure Edge Zones initiative, which will bring ultra-low-latency edge compute to joint customers. And Microsoft says it is planning to work with other operators soon. The cloud giant also stressed the 5G angle with the edge compute announcement. It said that the Azure Edge Zones will connect Azure services directly to 5G networks in carriers’ data centers.

“Given Microsoft’s intense focus on the edge and the Azure Edge Stack, Metaswitch makes a lot of sense,” said Scott Raynovich, founder of the research firm Futuriom. “Metaswitch has one of the most mature, cloud-native technology portfolios for deploying mobile communication functions at the edge. The company also has solid engineering pedigree and a record of getting things done the right way. This is a great fit and should give the major service providers pause as Microsoft expands its edge ambitions.”

Wireline, wireless convergence

Recently, Metaswitch announced that its Access Gateway Function (AGF) had been tested by Vodafone for an implementation of the 5G Wireless Wireline Convergence (WWC) AGF standard. Metaswitch worked with both Broadband Forum and 3GPP specifications for its AGF.

Metaswitch CTO Martin Taylor told FierceTelecom that there is a wireless/wireline convergence movement that is being driven by Tier 1 operators around the world that own both wireline broadband networks and mobile networks. The desire for convergence comes from “their observation that they are serving subscribers out of separate silos,” said Taylor. “The overall tech stack is utterly distinct between mobile and wireline. They’re all faced with modernizing the networks they’ve got.”

In addition, “operators are also thinking about their access networks serving the needs of edge computing and also unifying the whole subscriber management BSS/provisioning/charging framework,” said Taylor.