The focus at Amazon Web Services’ re:invent conference was firmly on edge computing (see special report), but of course, a corollary of that for many enterprises, cities, venues and other customers is private wireless networking. High quality connectivity is central to edge applications, as the partnership between Verizon and AWS highlights, and if those connections need to support critical availability or security, or integrate with other enterprise systems, some customers may want to have full control of them.
There is a growing trend for enterprises to demand the same level of management and control of their cellular connectivity, as it becomes more mission critical, as they have over LANs and WiFi. Private cellular and campus networks are being developed by mobile operators and alternative providers such as integrators or neutral hosts (the latter either in shared spectrum or airwaves allocated to industry). These are LTE for now, but will migrate to 5G to support or enhance the local, edge-focused use cases in future.
In many cases, a local, private, virtualized packet core will also be implemented, to increase the range of functions an enterprise can support within its own premises. Again, this may be a distributed instance of an MNO’s core, a hosted offering from a vendor such as Nokia, or a locally implemented, standalone platform. In many cases, it will evolve to support multiple types of access, including cellular and WiFi 6, and even wirelines, for maximum performance flexibility.
One company demonstrating private cellular solutions at re:Invent was US mobile network vendor JMA, which was showing off an enterprise-class, virtualized RAN running in the USA’s shared spectrum band, CBRS (the 3.5 GHz band which has been made available under a three-tiered system, with a combination of general access and, from next year, licenses).
At last year’s re:Invent. CBRS was a big feature of the presentations and it was clear how AWS might use shared spectrum schemes like this one – which provide greater quality safeguards, via a spectrum access system, than fully unlicensed options – to extend its enterprise influence right into the access network.
This year, it was partnering with companies like JMA to highlight how the CBRS solution (branded OnGo) had evolved towards commercial reality. The demo was based on JMA’s XRAN software with a CBRS baseband, radios and antennas. The vendor connected a common CBRS OnGo network to multiple core network services, in order to support a wide range of enterprise use cases such as security, surveillance cameras, and hands-free intercom.
JMA’s platform allows users to use the full 150 MHz available to OnGo private networks as well as to select and manage different CBRS channels dynamically, on a use case basis. It is optimized for campus environments and can be flexibly deployed at any data center or edge location as a standard compute workload, enabling private wireless in a cloud native delivery model.