Telefónica teams with Microsoft Azure on private 5G networks

  • Telefónica Tech and Microsoft Azure to collaborate
  • Operator will combine its private 5G connectivity with Azure Private Edge Zone tech
  • Duo target companies with ‘Smart Factory’ plans

Telefónica Tech has teamed up with Microsoft Azure to target large enterprise users with a private network offering that combines the operator’s 5G connectivity solution with the hyperscaler’s Azure Private Edge Zone computing platform. 

The partners say they aim to “facilitate the deployment of industrial 5G communications and computing solutions” by providing an integrated architecture that “accelerates the adoption of new business processes, included within the concept of ‘Smart Factory’, where the digitization of equipment, intensive use of computing and artificial intelligence to facilitate business decision-making and the security of data, which never leaves enterprise premises, are key points.” (See Telefónica Tech partners with Microsoft to provide the industrial sector with private 5G connectivity and on-premises edge computing.)

It's not immediately clear exactly how Telefónica Tech intends to provision these private networks: There are a number of architectural options for private 5G networks, as research house Dell’Oro Group pointed out in the Special Report it produced for TelecomTV’s 5G Evolution Summit. (The report is available to download for everyone who registers for the Summit.)

As the operator states that data is never leaving the site, it seems likely the partners are proposing a completely standalone private 5G network comprising small cell radio access network elements and a micro 5G core integrated with the Azure edge computing platform, but we await confirmation from Telefónica.

While Telefónica isn’t the first to team up with a hyperscaler partner offer such a service, it’s in the vanguard: In the US, Verizon has been working with Azure to provide private 5G mobile edge services since late last year, for example. (See Verizon teams with Microsoft to offer private 5G mobile edge computing.)

And hyperscalers aren’t the only possible partners for operators wanting a slice if the private networks pie: In the UK, Verizon Business teamed up with Nokia to build a private 5G network for the Port of Southampton, a major coup for the partnership formed in October last year

The private networks pie is sizeable, and a great way for network operators to cement a relationship with a large enterprise customer. Nokia believes there are more than 14.5 million potential industrial sites worldwide that could deploy a private wireless network, including 10 million factories, and while clearly not all will have their own private wireless network, the potential is significant: At Dell’Oro, the research team believes total private 5G radio access network investments will surpass $1 billion by 2025

The potential for 5G private networks and the role that network operators can play in the market is one of the key focus topics for this week's 5G Evolution Summit here at TelecomTV: Check out the agenda for Wednesday 12 May (it includes a roundtable discussion featuring multiple network operators) and register for the event so you can send in questions to the participants from Deutsche Telekom, Orange and more in our live Q&A session. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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