Home5G & BeyondBT and T-Mobile warn against trusting core network to public cloud

    BT and T-Mobile warn against trusting core network to public cloud


    BT’s chief architect, Neil McRae (pictured), taunts mobile operators ‘suckered’ into public cloud after AWS outage

    The chief architect of UK telco BT has come out strongly against the idea of mobile operators trusting their core network services to be run by public cloud operators. 

    “Still want to put your network core into the public cloud? #suckers,” tweeted Neil McRae, chief architect of the UK’s BT as details emerged about Amazon Web Services (AWS) downtime. 

    The dangers of owning responsibility for core network strategy have been a critical talking point in mobile operator forums this week.

    Alex Jinsung Choi, SVP of strategy and technology innovation at Deutsche Telekom and chief operating officer of the O-RAN Alliance said this week that “it’s crucial that is all O-RAN members collaborate speed the development of commercially available Open RAN systems.” Choi was speaking at the O-Ran Alliance’s annual Plugfest, which brings equipment makers, mobile operators and integrators together.

    Can you trust AWS to your core?

    Yesterday patterns of network downtime noted by Downdetector indicated a widespread problem with AWS, since premium clients such as Netflix, Slack, Amazon’s Ring and DoorDash were also down. 

    Last week another massive outage disrupted Amazon’s cloud services for several hours last week in the US, rendering Netflix, Disney+, Robinhood and other services inaccessible, even Amazon’s own e-commerce website. 

    Another performance review from ToolTester reported that Amazon had 27 network failures in the US in 12 months, not including last week’s outage. 

    T-Mobile’s $60 billion question

    According to Light Reading, T-Mobile’s president of technology Neville Ray spoke out strongly this week against trusting a third-party cloud computing provider with their network operations. Ray has responsibility for running T-Mobile’s $60 billion 5G network upgrade programme over five years.

    “The phone isn’t going to ring, the data session is not going to happen unless that core service is up and running,” Ray said, according to the investor web site Seeking Alpha. “I’m not at the point yet where I would put that in the hands of a third party.”

    The cloud is great for some jobs

    The mobile operator needs to “own that experience as much as we can ourselves because that’s pretty critical in the nature of the business,” said Ray. T-Mobile operates its own in-house cloud computing service, from which it runs its 5G standalone core. While the executive with ultimate responsibility for the mobile operator’s 5G service is reportedly ‘comfortable’ offloading its IT operations into a third-party cloud, the operator is not open to exposing its core networking operations.

    However, Ray said T-Mobile remains ‘very open’ to working with all the cloud providers every day.

    In the US both Dish Network and AT&T have opened their core to public cloud operators. Dish plans to run all of its core network operations in the AWS cloud as it builds its own nationwide 5G network. The operator claims that the immediate impact will be more cheaper network operations and more options to create flexibility for innovative business services, and that it will cut down dramatically on its network-operation expenses.

    Risk of losing control

    AT&T will be putting its 5G core network operations into Microsoft’s cloud the next three years. One analyst said that, in the long run, AT&T risks “losing control” over its network and technology roadmap if it puts its core in the cloud.

    Meanwhile, this week the O-Ran Alliance held its annual Plugfest event which, it claims, helps mobile operators to create stronger core for themselves companies through partnerships with system builders. 

    O-Ran Alliance is building better cores

    The event was conducted in 7 global venues, with 94 participating companies. PlugFest now has 144 active corporate participants, double the total of 70 collaborators at the 2020 PlugFest. Several venues successfully tested O-Cloud products and multi-vendor virtualised RAN integrations at the network core. Specific tests dealt with the O-RAN infrastructure security.

    “The expanded and diverse participation of companies from across the technology ecosystem at the O-RAN Global PlugFest 2021 is testimony to growing momentum behind Open RAN and its relevance for our industry,” said DT’s Choi, who is also chief operating officer of the O-RAN Alliance.