5G and Beyond

NEC expands AWS tie-up to gain 5G edge

NEC first signed a strategic collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in November 2020 in order to provide cloud services to government and enterprise customers. The Japanese vendor has now expanded this agreement further by adding 5G and hybrid cloud services, among other elements, to the mix.

In terms of 5G, NEC aims to offer a service that extends all the way from the operations support system (OSS) to the network edge. The vendor will contribute its own 5G core, which is based on cloud-native and open specifications, and OSS/BSS products and combine them with cloud and edge solutions from AWS. The objective is to deploy 5G-based infrastructure and applications at the network edge.

NEC also intends to enhance its hybrid cloud offering with support from AWS, providing services that connect both on-premises and cloud environments in order to support enterprise digital transformation strategies.

NEC has already been building up expertise in this field: The vendor has increased the number of AWS-certified engineers to 2,000, up from 1,500 in November 2020, and is aiming for 3,000 in three years.

Furthermore, NEC has been certified as an AWS Government Competency Partner and said it will focus on "developing and providing a menu of offerings to accelerate the digital transformation for government activities in Japan."

Worth noting here is that NEC and its Netcracker subsidiary have already deployed their 5G core and full stack digital BSS/OSS on AWS cloud infrastructure to orchestrate and automate 5G digital services. The service was demonstrated at Mobile World Congress 2021, when NEC deployed its 5G core control plane on an AWS Region and its 5G UPF on an AWS Outposts' edge location.

Building bridges

Toshifumi Yoshizaki, executive vice president at NEC, again described the vendor's collaboration with the US-based hyperscaler as "the first of its kind" between AWS and a Japanese company.

"It has been a great year, seeing many successes in the areas of government, modernization and in the skill enhancement of NEC engineers," Yoshizaki said.

NEC has certainly placed a focus on building cloud alliances in recent times. For example, in July it expanded its "multi-year strategic partnership" with US software giant Microsoft that saw NEC adopt Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud platform provider.

The Japanese vendor is also a major cheerleader for open radio access networks (RAN) for 5G, and in August announced a collaboration with Fujitsu on interoperability testing for 5G basestations that conform to specifications from the O-RAN Alliance.

NEC's collaboration with Rakuten Mobile, Japan's disruptive open RAN and cloud-native player, has certainly raised its open RAN profile. In May, Rakuten Mobile signed MoUs with Fujitsu and NEC to try and accelerate "global expansion" of Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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