IBM and Nokia announce plans for a private 5G service at MWC 2023

Communications service providers will be able to operate and observe private 5G environments in a unified management stack.

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IBM and Nokia will join forces on a “seamless, simplified” private managed 5G service using IBM Cloud Satellite, the two companies announced at Mobile World Congress 2023. With this plan, IBM and Nokia are following the trend of large partnerships and territory among enterprise 5G providers.

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IBM and Nokia team up for managed 5G service

The new offering will be a private managed 5G service on IBM Cloud Satellite for enterprise customers. Nokia will handle the private wireless side with its 5G Cloud RAN, while IBM will provide expertise in automation, artificial intelligence and hybrid cloud. The plan is to provide enhanced resiliency, performance, security and compliance capabilities for customers deploying edge connectivity.

Together, IBM and Nokia will create a unified management stack in which enterprises can “design, automatically build, instantly connect, operate and observe their private 5G environments,” IBM announced.

Demand for 5G network connectivity is increasing

IBM Consulting’s systems integration team will handle the transition. The new private 5G service will also include IBM’s Cloud Pak for Network Automation solution, which automates and orchestrates network operations for communications service providers. A 5G cloud network provides the speed and reliability that always-on businesses are looking for in their digital transformations, IBM said.

I SEE: 5G vs. 6G: What’s the difference? (TechRepublic)

The service could also allow communications service providers to connect to multiple private 5G environments in multiple geographic locations. The partnership aims to anticipate and plan for the growing demand for connectivity.

“Enterprises are navigating a hyper-distributed application environment that spans multiple public and private clouds and on-premise environments, dispersed user bases and remote/hybrid employees, as well as massive amounts of data generated by many different data streams,” according to the IBM. MWC press release.

Building on the 2020 5G cloud partnership

This plan builds on a 2020 partnership that initially connected IBM Cloud technology to Nokia’s telecommunications services. At the time, the companies combined 5G Cloud RAN with IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and validated IBM Cloud Satellite to run on Nokia’s Open Edge hardware platform.

Now, Nokia plans to integrate IBM’s Cloud Pak for Network Automation solution into the existing joint offering. This option will benefit enterprise customers looking for 5G telecom connectivity and cloud applications.

In September 2022, Nokia introduced a 5G Layer 3 call with IBM integrations. Nokia was able to verify that the central unit and the distributed unit of the Nokia 5G Cloud RAN were successfully running on the IBM Cloud Red Hat OpenShift Kubernetes service, using Nokia’s Open Edge hardware platform.

Although the partnership and some of its details have been shared, IBM and Nokia have not announced when the transition will be complete.

Other IBM announcements at MWC 2023

IBM unveiled several other carrier-tailored announcements at MWC 2023.

First, Juniper Networks will expand its existing partnership with IBM into a unified RAN management program. The company plans to integrate IBM’s network automation capabilities with Juniper’s Radio Access Network and Open Radio Access Network technology to explore this possibility. The ultimate goal is to enable “disaggregated, multi-vendor and economically viable radio networks” for communications service providers, IBM wrote.

IBM and Spirent will add IBM’s Cloud Pak for Network Automation and Spirent’s 5G Test & Assurance solution to their joint 5G network service. It is designed to automate the 5G cloud deployment process for customers who rely on multiple vendors for their networking solutions. Vodafone will be one of the top customers.

Competition for hybrid and multicloud market share

Overall, IBM is working to gain as much market share as possible in the areas of edge networking, hybrid and multicloud, which is especially important as more and more organizations move towards hybrid and multicloud. An IDC study found that 76% of businesses are making this move. Competitors such as Microsoft Azure and VMware are gaining ground in the telecommunications world. Meanwhile, 5G Open RAN continues to gain steam.

Read next: Cisco and NTT join the private 5G race and Samsung locks down standardization for 5G satellite network modems (TechRepublic)

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