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Nokia partners with largest cloud providers on 5G RAN

Nokia's RAN-related partnership with AWS, Microsoft and Google solidifies its strategy of delivering cloud-based 5G infrastructure to service providers and major enterprises.

Nokia has partnered with AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud to integrate its radio access network with the public cloud platforms. The combined technology would help developers and service providers deliver 5G services.

In general, the deals announced this week would provide critical cloud-native infrastructure for delivering next-generation wireless services to enterprises.

"[Enterprises] would rather consume 5G as a service than integrate all the necessary elements to create it themselves," said Tom Nolle, president of the telecom consultancy CIMI Corp.

A radio access network (RAN) connects devices, such as mobile phones, PCs and tablets, to the core of a telecommunications network. Nokia is a proponent of Open RAN (O-RAN) built on an open architecture.

The following provides details on each of the partnerships:

  • Nokia and Google Cloud plan to develop joint products that combine the former's O-RAN and virtual RAN (vRAN) with Google's edge computing platform. Nokia will run its technology on Google Cloud Anthos, an environment for running applications in containers instead of virtual machines.
  • Nokia and AWS agreed to enable vRAN and O-RAN on the cloud platform. The companies plan to develop proofs of concept of the combined technologies jointly. AWS said the work will allow software developers to build and then offer 5G services on AWS.
  • Microsoft and Nokia expect to combine Nokia's vRAN, O-RAN and radio access controller with the Azure Private Edge Zones computing platform. For example, software developers could build applications for real-time robotics, mixed reality or immersive gaming. Nokia also plans to integrate its RAN technology with the Azure 4G/5G core to support enterprise services.

The partnerships are not the first between Nokia and cloud providers. In 2019, it announced a communications technology partnership with Microsoft. The deal combined the Azure platform, AI and machine learning with Nokia's LTE/5G private wireless products, software-defined WAN and IoT connectivity technology. The partners sought to develop services for enterprises and communication service providers (CSP).

Last year, Nokia and Google Cloud said they would develop cloud-native 5G core products for CSP. In October, Nokia announced that it will move its on-premises IT infrastructure and applications to Google Cloud.

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