Service Provider Cloud

Nokia ties with cloud's big three in private mobile network push

Nokia has clearly been saving up all its major public cloud announcements in order to make one big splash: the Finnish vendor has unveiled partnerships with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure – all focusing on collaboration in the field of open and virtualized radio access networks (RAN) with private mobile networks for enterprise users as the first target market.

As noted by Gabriel Brown, principal analyst at Heavy Reading, by announcing all three partnerships at the same time, "Nokia is impeccable in its neutrality and showing its commitment to cross-platform."

"This is exactly the right strategy because enterprise end-users, telcos and the cloud providers themselves all want choice and diversity in this market. Undoubtedly, Nokia has some market power here as one of the leading – arguably the leading – provider of private mobile network technology suppliers," Brown said.

With AWS, the Finnish vendor plans to "research and enable" virtualized or cloud RAN and open RAN "to support the development of new customer-focused" 5G services. The two partners aim to develop proof of concepts at Nokia's facilities and will research how the combination of Nokia's RAN, open RAN, cloud RAN and edge solutions can operate with AWS Outposts – a type of hybrid cloud service from AWS.

The Azure collaboration will focus on the development of 4G and 5G private wireless use cases for enterprises, combining Nokia's cloud RAN technologies with Microsoft Azure cloud-based services.

Last but not least, Nokia aims to work with Google Cloud to develop new, cloud-based 5G radio solutions that combine Nokia's RAN, open RAN, cloud RAN and edge cloud technologies with Google's edge computing platform and applications ecosystem.

"The announcements indicate the first target market will be private mobile networks for enterprise users. This is a less demanding use case, in terms of radio processing capability, than the public network and is an area where public cloud providers are working hard to create, and enable, solutions that integrate devices and networks with end-user applications running on their edge cloud platforms," Brown added.

Stepping up to open RAN

The three agreements certainly augment Nokia's strategy of expanding its partner ecosystem. The Finnish vendor has also been pushing its open RAN credentials of late to reassure telco partners and customers that it is taking their concerns about vendor lock-in and disaggregation seriously.

Indeed, it quoted approving comments from Alex Choi, SVP for strategy and technology innovation at Deutsche Telekom (DT), and Ibrahim Gedeon, CTO at Telus, with both welcoming collaborations in the area of open RAN and the cloud-native 5G core.

Want to know more about cloud-native networks and NFV? Check out our dedicated cloud-native networks and NFV content channel here on
Light Reading.

It's fair to say that Nokia has shown more enthusiasm for open RAN than Scandinavian rival Ericsson, while Huawei has conspicuously dragged its heels when it comes to the nascent technology.

Pekka Lundmark, Nokia's new CEO, has even named open RAN as one of his priorities, albeit with an eye on the longer term. "It is coming but not a needle mover in the short term," he recently told analysts.

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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