The good and the bad of Amazon's private 5G

Top executives from AT&T and Verizon discussed the new private 5G offering from Amazon Web Services and how it might affect their own efforts in the space.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies

December 10, 2021

3 Min Read
The good and the bad of Amazon's private 5G

Top executives at AT&T and Verizon this week reacted to the entry of Amazon into the private wireless networking space. In general, they argued that the hyperscaler's new AWS Private 5G offering doesn't directly compete with their own products in the space.

However, AT&T CEO John Stankey acknowledged that his sales team could eventually run into the Amazon Web Services (AWS) sales team in the private 5G arena at some point in the future.

"Can we begin to move down market and offer more economical solutions that might meet the needs of the similar area where Amazon is trying to play? It's possible," Stankey said this week at an investor event, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. "But right now, we've got our hands full kind of at the upper end of the market."

AWS last week took the wraps off its new Private 5G offering that the company said is easier and simpler for enterprises to deploy than existing products in the space. AWS CEO Adam Selipsky described the product as "shockingly easy" to use.

Figure 1: AWS has said its Private 5G service is as simple as a network in a box. (Source: AWS) AWS has said its Private 5G service is as simple as a network in a box.
(Source: AWS)

Pros and cons

In response to questions on AWS' Private 5G, AT&T's Stankey said that he believes Amazon is targeting smaller enterprise customers looking for an alternative to Wi-Fi. He said AT&T, meanwhile, is offering its own private wireless services to larger enterprises that need nationwide coverage options. "I don't think we have a scaled enough and simple enough offer in that space right now at this point," he said.

Similarly, Verizon's Hans Vestberg said that his own company's private 5G products leverage integrated technologies and licensed spectrum. He suggested that's not something AWS is offering. And Vestberg also said Verizon could work with AWS in the private 5G arena, and therefore doesn't view the company as a direct competitor.

Indeed, the analysts at Analysys Mason argued in a recent post that wireless network operators in general should view AWS Private 5G as a channel they can use to expand their own sales. After all, they calculated that US operators are the primary contractors on fewer than 10% of private networks.

"Cellular network operators are often behind in the roll-out of private network capabilities, which has allowed other providers to step into the role," agreed the analysts at Juniper Research in their own post. "The most successful players here are network vendors with equipment channels that they can use as an entry point into the market."

Importantly, Juniper Research ranked Nokia, Ericsson and Druid Software as key leaders within the private networks sector. Thus, they may be companies most directly affected by the new private 5G offering from AWS.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

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