BT chooses Linux operating system Ubuntu for 5G cloud core

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The British operator has opted for Canonical’s Charmed OpenStack on Ubuntu as a key component of its next generation 5G Core.

Ubuntu is a Linux operating system, which has with both community and professional support. Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, will provide the open source virtual infrastructure manager (VIM) as part of BT’s network functions virtualisation (NFV) programme and its transition to a cloud-based core network.

This intention is that the open source, cloud-based approach will allow BT to quickly deploy new services, and increase capacity to meet customers’ demand, driven by 5G and fibre to the premises (FTTP).

OpenStack to the core

Canonical’s OpenStack architecture will also facilitate the delivery of BT’s full 5G core network, the two companies say.

Openstack cloud software supports the separation of network hardware and software, and turns key core network components into software applications. This means they can be updated faster, with ongoing integration and development.

This separation allows different network applications to share the same hardware across data centres, making the network more resilient and scalable when additional capacity is needed.

BT’s cloud-based full 5G Core will be introduced from 2022, to offer higher bandwidth and lower latency in parallel with its expanding 5G coverage, to enable applications like mobile augmented reality, real-time health monitoring, and mobile cloud gaming.

Converging network technologies

The full 5G Core is also a vital stage of BT converging network technologies, bringing together fixed, mobile and Wi-Fi into “one seamless customer experience”.

Further down the line, cloud-based architecture will enable ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC), network slicing and multi-gigabit-per-second speeds.

This later phase of 5G development will enable critical applications like real-time traffic management of fleets of autonomous vehicles, massive sensor networks with millions of devices measuring air quality across the entire country, and the ‘tactile internet’, where a sense of touch can be added to remote real-time interactions.

Going cloud native

Neil J. McRae, BT Group Chief Architect, said, “Canonical is providing us with the ‘cloud-native’ foundation that enables us to create a smart and fully converged network.

“Utilising open source and best-of-breed technologies will ensure we can deliver on our convergence vision, and enable a world-leading 5G and FTTP experience for our customers.”

Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical, added, “BT recognised the efficiency, flexibility and innovation afforded by an open architecture, and realises the value of such an approach in enabling its delivery of new 5G services.

“We’re delighted to be working with them to deliver the foundation to this approach, which will underpin BT’s 5G strategy.”