AWS, Amazon’s cash cow cloud division, has launched a new service designed to help companies deploy their own private 5G networks, at least eventually.
AWS first announced AWS Private 5G in preview late last year, but it’s now officially available to AWS customers from its US East (Ohio), US East (N. Virginia ) and US West (Oregon), with plans to roll out internationally “in the near future.”
But – and this is a big “but” – despite its name, AWS Private 5G currently only supports 4G LTE.
With AWS Private 5G, companies order the hardware (a radio unit) and a bunch of special SIM cards directly from AWS, and AWS then provides all the necessary software and APIs (application programming interfaces) to enable companies to configure their own private mobile. local network. This incorporates the AWS Management Console, through which users specify where they want to build their network and the capacity required, with AWS automating network configuration and deployment once the customer has activated their small cell radio units.
Basically, the network infrastructure managed by AWS works well with other AWS services, including its Identity and Access Management (IAM) offering that allows IT to control who and what devices can access the private network. AWS Private 5G also connects to Amazon’s CloudWatch observability service, which provides network health insights among other useful data points.
In terms of costs, AWS charges $10 per hour for each radio unit it installs, with each radio supporting speeds of 150 Mbps on up to 100 SIM cards (i.e. individual devices ). In addition to this, AWS will charge for all data transferred to the Internet, billed at Amazon’s regular EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) rates.
So, indeed, Amazon is promising industries – such as smart factories or other locations (remote or not) with high bandwidth requirements – instantaneous and localized 5G, while passing them on its cloud infrastructure tacky where usual charges apply.
Public vs. private
It’s clear that 5G has the potential at transform many industries, and will be the foundation for everything from robotics and self-driving cars to virtual reality and beyond. But public 5G networks, which most consumers with 5G-enabled devices currently rely on, have limited coverage and bandwidth can be shared by millions of users. Additionally, businesses have little control over the network, even if their premises are within range of the network. And that’s why private 5G networks are an attractive proposition, especially for businesses with mission-critical applications that demand low-latency data transfers around the clock.
AWS Private 5G uses Citizen Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), a shared 3.5 GHz wireless spectrum that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) cleared in early 2020 for use in commercial environments because it was previously reserved for the Department of Defense (DoD). So this update essentially opened up CBRS to a myriad of use cases, including companies looking to create new 5G services or extend existing 4G/LTE services.
At the same time, the FCC announced key Spectrum Access System (SAS) administrators who would be authorized to manage wireless communications in the CBRS band, a process effectively designed to protect “high priority” users ( eg the DoD) against interference. Any device connecting to the CBRS spectrum requires authorization from a SAS administrator, which today includes Google, Sony, CommScope, Federated Wireless, Key Bridge Wireless and Amdocs.
And it’s a key part of the new AWS Private 5G service – it’s fully integrated into the SAS administration process, with AWS handling everything on behalf of the customer, including taking responsibility for interference issues among d other troubleshooting items related to spectrum access.
So Amazon’s new private 5G offering is perhaps a misnomer as it stands today, in that it currently only supports 4G LTE. But the OnGo Alliance (then called the CBRS Alliance) completed its 5G specifications for CBRS over two years ago now, and the months since have been all about laying the groundwork to enable fully commercial 5G services – no later. Just yesterday, Samsung Electronics America announced a partnership with Kajeet to deploy a new private 5G network on CBRS.
But while “AWS Private 5G” is a nod to what it’s designed to support in the future, the current branding may cause some consternation among interested parties looking for deployments. Local 5G today. It doesn’t currently offer 5G, so perhaps the name should reflect that a bit more accurately.